Mouth Cancer Awareness Day
Two people die every week in Ireland from the ‘silent killer’ – mouth cancer…
To highlight the issue for Mouth Cancer Awareness Day, former heavyweight boxer Cathal O’Grady, whose cancer was only diagnosed in May of this year, said he led a healthy lifestyle and was really shocked when a visit to his dentist led to the discovery of mouth cancer.
Free mouth cancer examinations are available in over 300 dental surgeries nationwide on 21st September.
O’Grady urged people who may not have been at the dentist for some time, to avail of the free checkups to mark Mouth Cancer Awareness Day.
“I don’t drink or smoke and lead an active and healthy life so I was really floored when I received the diagnosis. It just shows you that while smoking and drinking increase the risks, this disease can strike anyone. Thankfully my dentist spotted the lump in my mouth during a regular visit and then she put the arrangements in place for a biopsy and follow-on appointment with the Dublin University Dental School. So the disease was caught in its early stages and that’s really important.”
Launching the awareness programme, businessman Bobby Kerr highlighted the fact that 26 cases of mouth cancer had been discovered on previous Mouth Cancer Awareness Days, which underlines the importance of getting a regular check up.
Kerr, who was diagnosed with cancer late last year, has since made a full recovery: “People need to learn about this disease, to be aware of the symptoms and to get over any reluctance they may have to go for a brief and pain free examination. That’s the key message of Mouth Cancer Awareness Day for me. Raising awareness and encouraging people who haven’t been to their dentist for a while or who have noticed a lump in their mouth, to get it checked out”, Kerr said.
Three hundred cases of mouth and pharynx cancer are detected in Ireland each year and this type of cancer kills more people than skin melanoma.
Dr Conor McAlister from the Irish Dental Association pointed out that if you drink or smoke the chances of getting oral cancer are up to 40 times greater. “We are seeing an increase in the incidence of this disease and seeing it in younger people. It’s not just smokers and drinkers. Whatever the cause, the key point to remember is that early detection saves lives.”
“The signs and symptoms of mouth cancer may include a sore or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal within 3 weeks. Other signs are white or red patches inside the mouth, a lump in the mouth or neck or a persistent sore throat or hoarseness”, Dr McAlister said.
Find out where you can get your free exam at one of 300 participating dental surgeries: www.mouthcancerawareness.ie
According to the National Cancer Registry in Ireland, approximately 50% of all mouth cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage. This can result in more complex treatment with a greater impact on quality of life and overall survival.
Anyone who has concerns about mouth cancer can speak with a specialist nurse in confidence by calling the National Cancer Helpline on Freephone 1800 200 700.
Mouth Cancer Awareness Day was initiated by a group of mouth, head and neck cancer survivors in September 2010. On that occasion, over 3,000 people queued outside the Cork and Dublin Dental University Hospitals for a free mouth cancer examination.
Since 2011 the Irish Dental Association has thrown its full support behind the initiative and will be doing so again this year.
A joint initiative by the Irish Dental Association, Irish Cancer Society, Dublin and Cork Dental University Schools, the Dental Health Foundation and Mouth, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Ireland, the main risk factors of Mouth Cancer are:
* Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes or marijuana
* Chewing smokeless tobacco, betel quid or paan
* Excessive alcohol consumption
* Using both tobacco and alcohol together – this greatly increases your risk
* Excessive exposure to sunlight or radiation
* Exposure to the Human papilloma virus (HPV) through sexual contact
* A diet lacking in fruit and vegetables.