'My dentist saved my life - she found a cancerous lump while doing a filling'
Published 28/01/2014 | 12:59
A MAN has credited his dentist with saving his life.
Berty Fay (47) from Crosskeys, Co Cavan, went to see his dentist Dr Joanne O’Riordan at her Cavan town surgery for a filling and all but ignored her concern over a suspicious lump she found on his tongue, during a routine oral cancer screening.
Believing it was just a minor mouth sore, Mr Fay said he didn’t put too much stock in it, thinking “it wouldn’t do any harm,” even though he previously smoked 60 cigarettes a day.
He went to see a GP who told him the lump was a mouth infection and prescribed him antibiotics.
But Dr O’Riordan still wasn’t satisfied with the diagnosis and urged him to have the lump checked out at the Dublin Dental Hospital which confirmed oral cancer.
He underwent 14 hours of surgery in November 2012 to remove the lump along with a portion of his tongue, which left scarring on his face.
But he has been given the all-clear since then and said that if it wasn’t for Dr O’Riordan’s vigilance, he wouldn’t be around today.
“She most certainly saved my life,” he said. “I never would have gone to see the doctor on my own.”
His sister Breege Fay (40) said she also has nothing but praise for Dr O’Riordan who she nominated for the 2013 Sensodyne Sensitive Dentist Awards which recognise dentists who have shown exceptional care to their patients.
“Joanne was so persistent but if we had dropped it, he wouldn’t be here today,” she said.
Dr O’Riordan was one of five Irish dentists who were awarded gongs for their exceptional care at the annual awards ceremony at the RDS earlier this month.
And she said she was delighted that her persistence paid off with a positive outcome.
“It’s great to see he is doing so well,” she told the Herald.
“He had major surgery but he’s smiling and is in great form.”
She said all dentists should be doing routine oral cancer screenings during examinations, especially for smokers who are at a higher risk of developing oral cancers.
The so-called “coffin corner”, in the back of the mouth and under the tongue, is a notorious breeding ground for oral cancers that can develop without obvious symptoms, she said.