Once again, Mouth Cancer Awareness Day aims to increase awareness of cancers of the mouth, and encourage people to reduce behaviours that increase their risk, and visit their dentist for regular check-ups.
More than 300 cases of cancer of the mouth (oral cavity and pharynx) are reported in Ireland every year, but early detection greatly improves the chances of survival. Dentists have a key role to play in the early detection of mouth cancer and in the prevention of the disease by identifying those patients who are exposed to risk factors.
The next time you attend your dentist for a check-up, he/she will also give you a mouth cancer exam. The examination is quick and painless. Please take 10 minutes to do something that could save your life!
How can I make sure that my mouth stays healthy?
- Visit a dentist regularly even if you wear dentures. This is especially important if you smoke and drink alcohol.
- When brushing your teeth, look out for any changes in your mouth or neck. Early warning signs include ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth, or other unusual changes in the mouth or neck.
- When exposed to the sun, make sure to use the correct type of barrier cream on your lips.
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Avoid the risk factors for mouth cancer, including: smoking tobacco; excessive alcohol consumption; using tobacco and alcohol together; excessive exposure to sunlight or radiation (for lip cancer); chewing tobacco, betelguid, gutkha and paan; and, viral infections, e.g., human papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV can be spread through oral sex.
To find out more about mouth cancer, the signs and symptoms, the risk factors or other information about cancer, go to www.cancer.ie.