Early diagnosis saves lives

Dublin Dental University Hospital hosts series of public lectures to mark Mouth Cancer Awareness Day

A senior lecturer and consultant at Dublin Dental University Hospital (DDUH) has reminded colleagues of the importance of early detection of mouth cancer following another successful Mouth Cancer Awareness Day (MCAD) event.

Dr Denise MacCarthy organised the Dublin awareness event which this year saw a series of public lectures and information stands from the Dental Health Foundation, Irish Cancer Society and Alcohol Action Ireland among others.

Dr MacCarthy said: “If a cancer is detected at stage one, the five-year survival rate is 12 to 16 per cent but if the cancer is diagnosed at stage four, the five-year survival rate is 86 per cent. The dentist is the ideal clinician to notice early changes in the oral tissues.

“We have had five MCAD’s since 2010 where free checkups were offered to members of the public. Over the five years, 21,500 people attended for checkups and 26 early cancers were diagnosed.

“We need to encourage people to attend the dentist for regular checkups because less than 30 per cent of people who are entitled to a free annual dental checkup in fact attend. Early diagnosis saves lives.”

This year’s focus was on rural communities and articles were placed in the Farmers Journal and theFarming Supplement of the Irish Independent to raise awareness.

Dr MacCarthy encouraged general dental practices across Ireland to display information about mouth cancer in the waiting room, especially about risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, HPV and sunlight (on the lips).