Wednesday 22 November 2017

Rise in mouth-cancer cases alarms dentists

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Growing numbers of women and young men are developing mouth cancer, a disease that kills at least two people a week, dentists have warned.

Smoking and drinking alcohol are the main risk factors but there is a low awareness of the disease and many are diagnosed too late.

Dublin dentist Conor McAlister, newly elected president of the Irish Dental Association, told the organisation's AGM at the weekend that 400 new cases were diagnosed every year.

He said most people, including public and private patients, were entitled to a free dental examination annually and he urged them to avail of it to allow doctors to test for the cancer.

"Recently there has been an increase in the incidence rates among women and in younger men, particularly in respect of cancer of the tongue. Where previously the male-female incidence ratio was 6 to 1 it is now less than 3 to 1," he revealed.

He pointed to the success of the Mouth Cancer Awareness Day, which was held at the Dublin and Cork dental hospitals in September last year and attracted more than 3,000 patients with free mouth exams.

Dr McAlister said dentists would offer free mouth exams during the next awareness day on September 21.

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