Mouth Cancer is top of the agenda

New IDA president highlights “highly lethal disease” as one of his main priorities to tackle in his term of office

Dublin-based GDP Dr Conor McAlister has pinpointed raising the awareness of the dangers of mouth cancers among the general public as one of his main priorities during his time as president of the Irish Dental Association.

Up to 400 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in Ireland every year, with at least two Irish people dying from the disease every week, and incidences are on the increase. Speaking at the IDA's annual conference, Dr McAlister said: "Mouth cancer is a highly lethal disease and one of the most debilitating and disfiguring of all malignancies.

"Recently there has been an increase in the incidence rates among women and in younger men, particularly in respect of cancer of the tongue. Where previously the male to female incidence ratio was six to one it is now less than three to one.

"Oral cancers are often called the 'Cinderella cancers' because, even though they kill more people annually than the more well-known melanomas and cervical cancers, they have a much lower profile."

Dr McAlister highlighted the success of last September's Mouth Cancer Awareness Day that was held at the Dublin and Cork Dental Hospitals. Over 3,000 patients attended for free mouth examinations and six people were diagnosed with mouth cancer.

"Checking for mouth cancer is not a major inconvenience for dentists," he continued.

"And following the success of last year's awareness event, we will be staging an expanded awareness day on 21 September where free mouth examinations will be offered at participating dental practices throughout the country as well as the Dublin and Cork Dental Hospitals."