Skip to content
News / September 22, 2014

Dentists band together for mouth cancer awareness

by Guy Hiscott

Free mouth cancer screenings took place in dental practices across Ireland last week to raise awareness of the deadly disease.

The free exams were in support of Mouth Cancer Awareness Day (17 September) to heighten the public’s awareness and understanding of mouth cancer.

Dr Kevin Murphy, principal dentist at Chatham Street Dental Care in Dublin, says his practice signs up for the campaign every year. He comments: ‘During every oral cancer awareness day we have facilitated the prompt treatment of some nasty lesions in the mouths of our patients. In many cases, we have identified areas of concern that may be prevented from progressing to cancer.

‘If oral cancer is detected early, the treatment that follows is straightforward with little long-term effects for the patient.’

Dr Tony McLoughlin, a dentist based in Renmore Dental in Galway, agrees. His practice also took part in the free screening initiative, observing that it is an ‘excellent way to reach the more vulnerable members of society’.

‘This day has been an excellent way to increase national awareness of oral cancer. Within our practice, it has given us an opportunity to educate our own patients as to the symptoms of oral cancer, and common causes.’

Dr Vinod Joshi, founder of the Mouth Cancer Foundation (not in association with Mouth Cancer Awareness Day) believes this sort of routine screening to be very important in the early stages of mouth cancer.

He adds: ‘Mouth cancer is on the increase around the world and it continues to affect more people every year.

Mouth Cancer Awareness Day is an ‘excellent way to reach the more vulnerable members of society’

‘Dentists have a key role to play in the early detection and can do this by incorporating a comprehensive examination for mouth cancer during the dental check-up of their patient.’

Of viral, money-raising charity tactics, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS, Dr Joshi says: ‘They allow people to show solidarity with those who suffer from diseases or to pay tribute to friends and family members who have passed away. Innovative campaigns like this also help to reach younger people and untapped audiences.’

Mouth Cancer Awareness Day came just weeks after 22 cases of mouth cancer were revealed in recent dental exams among the Irish public.

But Dr Murphy remains hopeful now, as he says: ‘Since the Irish author Lia Mills wrote her book based on her experiences with oral cancer, the profile of the disease has thankfully been raised in this country.

‘Like anything in medicine, prevention is better than a cure. It only takes a five-minute appointment to identify factors that might put a person at risk of developing oral cancer, and to examine the lining of the mouth.’

Find out more about Mouth Cancer Awareness Day 2014.