A well-known cancer survivor has urged people not to be embarrassed at having strange anomalies in their mouth or body checked out by a doctor.
Actor Eddie Naessens, Fair City’s Dr Jack Shanahan, revealed that his own rare and aggressive form of cancer was discovered after he noticed a tiny bump in his cheek.
“At first I was more curious than concerned the symptoms seemed so innocuous, trivial in fact. But I pursued it and got tests done and then it was confirmed,” stand up comedian Eddie said at the launch of Mouth Cancer Awareness Day 2014.
“For me the message is simple. Don’t die of embarrassment. Don’t be afraid to be stupid. People need to know about this disease, to be aware of the symptoms and to get over their reluctance to go for brief and pain free examination.”
Mouth Cancer Awareness Day (MCAD) takes place next Wednesday, September 17. On this day, free mouth cancer examinations will be available to members of the public at over 500 participating dental surgeries countrywide
The MCAD campaign was initially launched to raise awareness and detection of the type of cancer that kills more Irish people than skin melanoma. Approximately three hundred cases of mouth and pharynx cancer are detected in Ireland each year.
Dr Conor McAlister from the Irish Dental Association said the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer may include a sore or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal within 3 weeks.
“Other signs are white or red patches inside the mouth, a lump in the mouth or neck or a persistent sore throat or hoarseness. If you or someone you know hasn’t visited the dentist in a long time, we would urge you to come along and bring your friend or family member for an exam next Wednesday on Mouth Cancer Awareness Day,” Dr McAlister said.
Members of the public can find a list of participating dentists in their area by logging on to www.mouthcancerawareness.ie .
Anyone who has concerns about mouth cancer can speak with a specialist nurse in confidence by calling the National Cancer Helpline on Freephone 1800 200 700.