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Mouth Cancer Awareness Day - Wednesday

THIS Wednesday is Mouth Cancer Awareness Day. Although oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, there's relatively little awareness of the disease. Hopefully, Mouth Cancer Awareness Day will help to change all that.

Each year more than 300 cases of oral cancer are detected in Ireland and, of that figure, a shocking 10pc will die from the disease. However, if detected early, these types of cancers are usually treatable and there's a much greater chance of survival.

Historically, mouth cancers have been more common in men rather than women but that's changing. The incidence rate of mouth cancer in women has increased at a rate of 3pc per year since 1994. The disease usually affects older people but younger people are now being diagnosed.

Dentists have a key role to play in the early detection of mouth cancer and in the prevention of the disease by identifying those patients who are exposed to risk factors.

"The majority of oral cancer cases occur in people over 50 but recent trends point to a rising prevalence in younger age groups," says Dr Hugh Bradley of Smiles Dental. "The importance of requesting an oral cancer check-up cannot be overstated."

After the success of last year's awareness day, participating dental clinics, including all 15 Smiles Dental surgeries, will be offering free mouth cancer examinations throughout the country and the examination is quick -- taking less than 10 minutes -- and painless. It could save your life.

To find out more about mouth cancer, the signs, the symptoms and the risk factors, visit www.cancer.ie