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1 Oct 2018

Stay aware to mouth cancer

Last week was Irish Cancer week and with this in mind, we wanted to talk about mouth cancer.

A National Cancer Week is a way to get us talking about the big C and encouraging us to get up to date with the latest information. At Pembroke Dental, we believe that knowledge is power and delighted to see such a positive initiative. There are increasing cases of cancer in Ireland but also many more people surviving cancer than in the past. Did you know that half of all cancers can be prevented? Educating your self about cancer means that can help prevent and even spot early signs which we all know is key to having a positive outcome. 

Irish Cancer Week say ‘Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was. Cancer Week Ireland is about encouraging us all to open up about cancer so that the fear of the past can be replaced by hope for better outcomes and a brighter future.’

So what’s all the fuss about?

Let’s face up to some facts about mouth cancer – in Ireland more than 700 people each year are diagnosed with mouth cancer and globally, this type of cancer is becoming recognised as a major issue. Although traditionally men and older people were most at risk, this is changing with incidences of women contracting mouth cancer rising by 3% each year. Only around half of mouth and pharynx cancers are detected early which is a worrying statistic as only around half of those treated will have a positive result. The good news is that early detection significantly improves the chances of survival when it comes to mouth cancer. 

What can we do to help ourselves?

The Irish cancer society recommend that you:

  • Visit your dentist regularly. We recommend at least one a year at minimum.
  • When brushing your teeth look out for any changes in your mouth or neck (for instance red or white patches, ulcers that don’t heal within a couple of weeks)
  • Protect your lips when out in the sun with an SPF lip balm
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Avoid the main risk factors – smoking, drinking heavily, an unhealthy diet, too much exposure to sunlight, exposure to radiation and certain viral infections

How can we help?

It’s not easy to look carefully inside your own mouth on a regular basis and it’s certainly easy to forget to do this. The best person to help you spot any potential cancer signs in your mouth is your dentist. We look closely at the inside of your mouth whenever you come in for a check up or treatment. In fact, our dental health checks cover 19 areas of your teeth, mouth and gums including a mouth cancer screen. We can give you advice and reassurance. We can also refer you for the right treatment if there are any worries. Some patient may even be entitled to one dental health check per year, free of charge under the PRSI/Medical Card Scheme. You can find out more about this via our costs page. The most important thing is that we are well placed to spot early signs so booking in for regular dental health checks is a sensible way to help avoid any unhappy experiences.
Useful websites for more information:
The Irish Cancer Society
The National Cancer Week

Photo by Joanjo Pavon via Unsplash.

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