Hundreds of dentists are offering free oral check-ups next week in the fight against mouth cancer.
They want to encourage people to take the five-minute screening for mouth cancer. The disease kills an average of two people here a week.
A worrying increase in the number of oral cancers among young people and the phenomenal response to a similar free screening programme last year has prompted members of the Irish Dental Association to offer the free examinations next Wednesday.
More than 300 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year in Ireland. A third of them die from the disease each year but if detected early it can be easily treated and the prognosis is good.
But more than 50pc of oral cancers are detected in the latter stages, making treatment much more difficult and invasive, with survival rates of less than five years.
Some 700 dentists across Ireland are opening up their surgeries to the public to avail of the five-minute exam on Mouth Cancer Awareness Day on September 21.
The Dublin Dental Hospital and Cork University Dental Hospital -- which saw queues of 3,000 people when the same service was offered last year -- are also offering the free exams.
Six of those who attended the free clinics last year were diagnosed with mouth cancer.
The simple examination in which the dentist checks the mouth for suspicious sores, ulcers, lumps or red and white patches should done by a dentist during a routine dental exam.
But people who never or rarely visit the dentist and other high risk groups -- including people who smoke and drink alcohol -- are particularly urged to book a free appointment.