Dentists are emphasizing the importance of early detection with mouth cancer, after 12 cases of the potentially deadly cancer were discovered on Mouth Cancer Awareness Day and one of these was discovered in Waterford.
The Irish Dental Association estimates that 10,000 people availed of free mouth cancer examinations carried out by participating dentists countrywide on September 21 of last year. As well as the confirmed cases, 286 people were advised to attend their GP for other related problems. Mouth Cancer Awareness Day was set up by a group of mouth, head and neck cancer survivors in September 2010. It is now a joint initiative by the Irish Dental Association, Irish Cancer Society, Dublin Dental University Hospital, Cork Dental University Hospital, the Dental Health Foundation and Mouth, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Ireland.
The President of the IDA, Conor McAlister said the fact twelve cancers were discovered in one day showed the importance of early detection and the need for everyone to have a regular examination.
He said, “Three hundred cases of mouth cancer are detected here each year with 100 deaths and this type of cancer actually kills more Irish people than cervical cancer or skin melanoma.
“According to the National Cancer Register in Ireland, roughly 50% of all mouth cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage. Hopefully the fact these 12 cases have been caught at an earlier stage means the impact on quality of life will be reduced.”
He added, “This year we saw up to 10,000 and I hope we can push on from that figure next year and keep the spotlight on this lethal form of the disease.”
Research shows that smoking and drinking alcohol are the main risk factors for mouth cancer and the risk is even greater if a person smokes and drinks. The most common symptoms are mouth ulcers that will not go away, swallowing difficulties and pain on the tongue and if people experience any of these, they are advised to visit their GP or dentist.