Warning after death of dad, aged 37, from cancer

People are cautioned to make sure they keep their commitments after the death of a father of just 37, who led a healthy lifestyle and did not drink or smoke.

Alan Birch, 37, died of oral cancer – and a dentist has now warned that many others could face a tragic diagnosis.

Alan had to have 90 percent of his tongue removed when he was diagnosed with cancer in 2018.

The shock diagnosis came despite Alan not being a smoker or drinker and leading a fit, healthy, and active life as a self-employed plasterer, reports The echo.

Alan and his partner Debbie McDonough got married in February this year. Alan died in April.

Now a warning has been issued that others should be aware of what happened.

Debbie said, “Usually the cancer he has is curable, but he got it in a very aggressive form. Every time they operated, it came back worse.”

Father of seven Alan Birch, pictured with partner Debbie (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Oral cancer takes more lives than cervical and testicular cancer combined, with 8,722 new cases reported in the UK last year. This is an increase of 58% compared to a decade ago and an increase of 97% since 2000.

Many cases are noticed by dentists – who now routinely look for the signs of oral cancer during checkups.

Warning after death of dad, aged 37, from cancer

Alan Birch and Debbie McDonough on their wedding day in February (Image: Joe Hague Photography)

But according to the British Dental Association, 19 million treatments have been missed due to lockdown.

Dr. Catherine Tannahill, dentist and director of clinical dentistry at Portman Dental Care said, “As dentists, we see firsthand the impact this disease can have, so we want to make sure people know what the signs and symptoms are, what to do. if they discover a problem and what steps they can take to reduce the risk of oral cancer.

“This is more important now than ever before, as thousands of diagnoses may have been missed this year due to the initial closure of dental offices and the subsequent backlog in appointments since then.

“While this may sound alarming, an early diagnosis of oral cancer leads to a 90% survival rate. Therefore, it is imperative that people continue to visit their dentist for regular checkups.

Warning after death of dad, aged 37, from cancer

Alan Birch led a healthy, active lifestyle before he was diagnosed with the deadly disease (Image: Liverpool Echo)

“Dentists play a critical role in detecting oral cancer, as they will always check for the classic symptoms of the disease at a routine appointment. As a dentist, it was alarming to see through our study how many people were unaware of this. .

“The most common signs of oral cancer are mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, unusual lumps or swelling in the mouth, head or neck, and red and white patches in the mouth. Oral cancer can occur in the tonsils and roof. in the tongue, so it’s important for people to thoroughly check all parts of their mouth.

“There are also a few simple lifestyle changes that people can make that can help reduce their risk of developing oral cancer. These include eating a healthy diet, drinking less alcohol, quitting smoking, using SPF on your lips, and of course. visit the dentist regularly.

“We strongly encourage people to act quickly as soon as they notice anything out of the ordinary as it will greatly increase their chances of fighting the disease. Seek advice from a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you have any concerns.

“Sadly, 2,704 people die of oral cancer every year, but with increased awareness and knowledge, and regular dental visits, we can all help reduce that number.”

You will find more information and advice about oral cancer here.

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