Our video success!

The success of our video urging and teaching people to check their mouths for cancer has really been staggering. The video has been viewed by over a million people across Facebook, which is a greater number than we ever expected. The importance of checking your own mouth cannot be stressed enough, and at HNCF raising awareness of cancer is one of our main aims. Thank you to everyone for your support and keep your eyes on our social media for the next video instalment.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, view below to learn how to spot abnormalities in the mouth.

A tribute to Barry

Louise Munday sadly lost her brother to head and neck cancer. On what would have been his 50th birthday, Louise and family decided to celebrate the occasion and raise money to help others suffering with head and neck cancer. They all did an incredible job and raised £2,000! Here are some lovely words about Barry:


Barry was first diagnosed with cancer in 2010, a lump developed in his neck and when the side of his face dropped he went to the doctor, after a biopsy and surgery a malignant tumour was found in his parotid gland, the tumour was found to be around his facial nerve, this nerve had to be cut during surgery, causing his face to be permanently dropped on one side.  He was successfully treated with radiotherapy after the surgery, he was kept an eye on by the hospital with regular scans, but only scans of his neck area.

Barry underwent reconstructive surgery on his face at a hospital in East Grinstead, they did a brilliant job lifting the side of his face up, and putting  a weight in his eyelid, he also had botox on his wrinkled forehead.

In 2014 Barry developed  a cough that being a typical​ man he left it and left it, until we finally got him to see the doctor, after x-rays he was found to have a tumour in his lungs, this turned out to be the same cancer as the one in his parotid gland.  We all thought he would be treated with radiotherapy as before and he would be fine, but at an appointment with the consultant to discuss treatment he was told the cancer was terminal, he started palliative care and chemotherapy, after 4 sessions, an X-ray showed the chemotherapy was not working, as he had a rare cancer and it was rare for where it had spread to, they were unsure how to treat it, he was sent away to regain his strength whilst they looked into another treatment or different chemotherapy.  He was looking so good not having any treatment the doctors decided to wait to try more chemotherapy.  Whilst he was on a break at his parents, he started talking and not making sense, we managed to get him to hospital where they found the cancer had now spread to the brain, the hospital decided to give him some radiotherapy which helped and after a short spell in hospital with steroids and other  medication he managed to get himself back to work, a lifeline for him.  His consultant was at the point where there was nothing more they could do. He kept himself going with the help of steroids, still getting himself to work even on the bus, as he was then unable to drive, he then started to go downhill fairly quickly and passed away at home in December 2015 with his  family looking after him.

He had a great send off, with so many people at his funeral we were able to raise money  and sent it to a large well know cancer charity with the request it be used for research into his specific cancer, we got a thank you letter, that made it clear to us the money would be put into a large pot and not used where we had requested it to be used. The  local hospice were not very helpful in his last weeks, we felt unsupported by them, so we didn’t want any money to go to them. Barry had a large circle of friends who wanted to raise money in his memory and asked us where we would like it to go, using good old google I was searching for a charity that had experience with his type of cancer, here I found HNCF Foundation, on reading about the charity and its research it seemed ideal for our fund raising, I had always said if I could campaign for anyone with cancer to have a full body scan to see if it has spread I would, Barry’s cancer was missed at he wasn’t checked to see if the cancer had spread anywhere else in his body.

Barry died at the age of 49, family and friends decided it would be a lovely way to honour what would have been his 50th birthday with a donation to HNCF, and we hope to be able to donate more to the charity in the future.


Laurie’s Isle of Wight Challenge blog

Day 1 – Friday 5th May – As I sat in my hospital bed in August 2014 with my face and neck badly cut up and my left leg in bandages and unable to walk, I vowed to myself that I would recover and finally do the sponsored walk I was intending to do that month, ironically for a cancer charity, that is walk the Isle of Wight Coastal path.

It took me almost a year before I returned to work and after a number of long walks, both by myself and with Katie, I decided that I would do the coastal path here in May 2017. So here I am…..completing the circle in my life and going back to where I had started.

Things have changed – I now live close to the island, just across the Solent in Portsmouth so getting to the island was easy. Katie gave me a lift this morning to Southsea and I caught a hovercraft over to Ryde. The journey took just ten minutes.

The walk today was 17 miles long from Ryde to Shalfleet via Cowes. The weather today was mostly cloudy with a few sunny spells but not warm enough to get my fleece off or wear my sun hat because of a strong easterly wind which thankfully was behind me as I am walking anticlockwise around the island.

The walk was not very hilly and there were a lot of road walking stretches – sometimes the path was well away from the coast, I think due to some landowners on the north side of the island not wanting people ruining their view of Fawley Oil Refinery across the Solent! 

A mixture of towns and countryside for sure but I know for certain that the views tomorrow will be a lot more spectacular as I pass by the Needles.

So tonight, I am staying in a b and b at the west of the island at Totland Bay and return to Shalfleet tomorrow morning.

Fish and chips for supper tonight and Isle of Wight seagulls love chips just as much as the mainland birds!


Day 2 – Saturday 6th May – A much better day today with better weather and most of the path was actually along the coast!

After a bracing full English breakfast (with muesli, orange juice, tea and toast), I jumped on a bus back to Shalfleet and with the sun out, I enjoyed an exquisite start through a mixture of woodland and farmland. I soon reached the coast and turned west towards Yarmouth. The views of the sea and the English coast were glorious. Small sailing boats dotted the waters, a perfect day for messing about on the water.

I reached Yarmouth at lunchtime, a small old town with a castle, old buildings and a ferry terminal to the mainland, also a marina with the equivalent of Rolls Royces in the harbour.

Later I reached Alum Bay which I had last visited in 2006. The area is now hideously touristy and I didn’t hang around very long before walking up to the top of the Needles, probably one of the most famous views in Britain.

I now turned eastwards walking for three miles along the ridge of Tennyson Down with glorious views of the whole of west of the island reaching Freshwater Bay and then a bus back to my b and b in Totland Bay for the night.

So another 16 miles done and 34 to go.


Day 3 – Sunday 7th May – A fantastic days walking from Freshwater Bay to Ventnor today, about 18 miles. The weather helped being cool in the morning then warm sunshine in the afternoon with a gentle breeze.

The walk today was along the south coast with spectacular views of the cliffs below, at times 250 feet below. It was tempting but I didn’t want to get too close to the edge to take pictures.

Half way along the way, I was overtaken in the air by a paraglider. He was only a hundred feet above me but over the sea much higher as he (or she) took advantage of the rising thermals over the cliffs. I felt extremely jealous of his/her freedom.

I reached the b and b that I am staying at just after 6.30pm. The owner (there are three of them) sounded and looked drunk. She offered me a chicken dinner with white wine at no extra cost which was very kind and I accepted – there no pubs nearby apparently. However, when she also offered me the use of the house’s hot tub, I politely declined. Besides, she doesn’t know how I like to dress in a hot tub…..


Day 4 – Monday 8th May – Firstly a big thank you to you if you have contributed to my sponsored walk.

I had a ginormous breakfast today from my now sober b and b owner – she did not cook it – her husband did. So I had two challenges today. The first was to eat that breakfast, the second was to walk the 18 miles from Ventnor to Ryde and reach Ryde by 7.15pm so I could get the hovercraft back to Portsmouth.

It took me an hour to eat the breakfast but that also included two Weetabix and toast. So not a lot of time to pack and put my boots on before I set off at 10am.

The walk was mostly along the east side of the island, mostly dominated by seaside towns with a pier such as Sandown and Shanklin, also pretty coves dotted along the coast.

Once again, the weather was dry and fairly sunny, very good walking weather. I wore my hat and it stayed on despite the breeze.

Shanklin and Sandown are both a shadow of their past. I walked past a number of boarded up hotels and amusement arcades and anyway, it was a Monday in early May so it was going to be quiet. Mostly elderly people walking their dogs….

The ice cream stalls and deckchair sellers were also somewhere else but at least the sun was shining.

As I walked north and over Bembridge Down, the sea was of course to my right and for most of the walk, I was shadowed by a flotilla of eight huge looking oil tankers, all following each other and no doubt waiting for the right tide to dock at Southampton.

Portsmouth then came into view and also an array of other boats, ferries from France as well as a cruise ship.

By now the time was 6pm and I had a relaxed walk towards Ryde, the hard walking had been done and I slowed down.

I reached the hovercraft port with 30 minutes to spare, the crossing was quick and the lovely Katie was there to greet me……



New HNCF videos coming soon!

We’ve been busy creating new video content to highlight what is normal and abnormal in the mouth.

We’ll be posting the videos in the near future, so watch this space!


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Charles Stanley’s Charity Of The Year!

Each year, Charles Stanley supports a charity that has been nominated and voted for by their staff. We are delighted to announce that for 2016/2017 we will be their charity of the year!

Charles Stanley have been looking after clients and their money since 1792. They stand out because of the time and attention they dedicate to their clients to help them achieve their individual goals. Their team is comprised of more than 800 individuals working across 24 locations in the UK, with more than £20 billion in funds under their administration. Charles Stanley retain the long-term advantages of being independently owned, whilst always putting their clients’ interests first.

Charles Stanley’s Charity Champion Harriet Griffin proposed HNCF as their charity of the year for 2016/17. Harriet says:

“Having seen the effects of head and neck cancer with my mother, who underwent the full head

and neck dissection, I am determined to help this foundation and help them achieve their goal”.

Harriet is hoping to make this year a huge success, with fun events as well as raising awareness of head and neck cancer. If you would like to support them in their wonderful fundraising efforts, you can do so here.



An article on today’s BBC News UK discussed why scans to detect cancer reduce the need for risky operations in head and neck cancer patients. Minimally invasive approaches to the detection and treatment of head and neck cancer are what we as a charity pioneer.

HNCF Director Professor Mark McGurk says:

Cancers that occur in the oropharynx (tonsils and back of tongue) and are linked to the HPV virus, are very sensitive to radiation therapy. The patient also tends to present with advanced disease, with either a lump in the tonsil or base of tongue and a lump in the neck (spread of cells to the lymph nodes in the neck). It is normally the appearance of the lump in the neck that draws the patient to the doctor.

What commonly happens is that after a course of chemotherapy the disease tends to shrink away, but frequently a lump remains in the neck. This normally poses a dilemma. Approximately 20% of the lumps will contain an active tumour, but it’s impossible to tell which ones do and don’t. If you wait and it is cancerous, then the outcomes will suffer as a result. If you do decide to operate, then 80% of people get an unnecessary operation, and on top of that, their tissue is badly damaged from the radiation and do not heal. A PET scan solves the problem. If you wait about 12 weeks after the completion of the radiation to give the therapy time to work and the cancer cells to die then inject the patient with a special sugar with a radioactive particle attached, then cancer cells selectively absorb sugar as they need this as an energy source to grow. The sugar is designed so that the cell cannot process it, and it is accumulated in the cancer. The radioactivity can then be visualised on a screen. So if the lump in the neck is still PET positive you know there is a good chance that live cancer cells are still present and then that patient goes on to have a neck dissection.

HNCF Events

Mention in The Telegraph!

M Restaurants, an award winning restaurant chain serving world-class steaks and wine are huge supporters of our charity and offer us continuous support.

M was featured in an article in this weekend’s The Telegraph Online and mentioned us! Their executive chef, Michael Reid, has released a cook book “Recipes from M: A 24 hour cookbook”, with £2.50 from the sale of each book being donated to us. We would love for you to consider purchasing a copy– not only will you be supporting our research, but you will also be the envy of your whole neighbourhood with the smells that’ll be emerging from your kitchen! (All the recipes will also make fantastic Instagram posts, if that’s your thing).

The article can be found here and we strongly urge you book a table at either their Bank or Victoria locations!

HNCF Get in touch

Scientists Offer Hope For Terminal Cancer

Scientists have unravelled a treatment that can offer hope for those with terminal cancer. All cancers cells, regardless of the amount of times they mutate, carry an identifiable “flag”. The “flags” are spotted by the immune system, where immune cells are sent out to attack, but in too small a number for them to completely wipe the cancer out.

If scientists are able to artificially multiply those immune cells and transfer them back to the patient, the outcomes of cases of cancer that have spread throughout the body would be much more prosperous.

Researchers are feeling hopeful that within two years, trials will be carried out on patients. In short, this discovery has proven that in a hopefully not too distant future, doctors and scientists will be able to identify the genetic makeup of a cancerous tumour, locate the “flags” and engineer thousands upon thousands of immune cells that will successfully combat the cancer.

Article featured in The Telegraph. For full article, please click here

Guy’s Hospital Mentors NICE for Sentinel Node Biopsy

The management of early carcinoma of the mouth remains controversial. Elective neck dissection is the mainstream and more invasive option, but isn’t always necessary and is often used as a precaution. However, Sentinel Node Biopsy exists as a minimally invasive alternative, with fewer surgical risks. HNCF is actively working to make SNB an option for all head and neck cancer patients across oncology centres all over the country.

Sentinel Node Biopsy has been used on breast cancer patients, has demonstrated po sitive results in oral cancer (hence NICE’s firm backing) and is also being applied in thoracics.

If you would like to read NICE’s full report, you can do so here: http://www.nice.org.uk/sharedlearning/setting-up-a-service-for-sentinel-lymph-node-biopsy-slnb-in-patients-with-early-oral-squamous-cell-cancer-scc-our-experience-to-date#results

HNCF Director Attends Conference in Madrid

HNCF Director Professor McGurk, was invited to speak and attend a one day conference sponsored by the European and International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons in the Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal in Madrid.


It appears that German medical teams would like to follow ours and NICE’s (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) footsteps in introducing Sentinel Node Biopsy as a preferred method of investigating the neck, which would avoid additional surgical intervention.

It is possible that we, HNCF, could offer them advice on training as Germany prepares to make Sentinel Node Biopsy a more conventional form of treatment.


Also speaking on the day was Professor Wolf (University of Munich), who has produced a pumping machine that allows pre-tissue to be kept alive after it’s transferred around the body. This is an exceedingly novel development, and, if refined to something much more manageable, surgeons will no longer need to operate on the neck to connect the small blood vessels in a skin graft, they would simply move the tissue to the new site, connect the jaw to the pump, which would keep the graft alive for 5-6 days, until the new blood supply begins.


Although a brief conference, the promising developments that are continuously unravelling prove that minimally invasive solutions to head and neck surgery are within our reach.