Over 2,000 people were given free mouth check-ups as part of Mouth, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Day yesterday. A further 1,000 people who were unable to be seen will be invited for a check-up soon.
Three Irish people die from mouth, head and neck cancers every week, more deaths than from skin melanoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma or cervical cancer, yet public awareness of these diseases remains low.
Most patients with mouth, head and neck cancer tend to present for treatment when their cancer is at an advanced stage, greatly reducing their chances of survival or a better recovery.
Yesterday's awareness day was organised by new support group, MHNC (Mouth, Head and Neck Cancer), which is made up of cancer survivors, healthcare professionals and health promoters.
According to the group, queues started forming at Dublin Dental Hospital at 6.45am and the hospital started seeing people at 8am, an hour ahead of schedule. Altogether, 1,360 people were seen, while details of a further 600 were taken.
In Cork, 700 people were seen and details of another 400 were taken.
MHNC said that the 1,000 people who could not be seen would be ‘directly invited to attend for a check-up shortly'.
Meanwhile an analysis of the check-ups is expected to be available in the coming weeks.
Mouth, head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, with over 500,000 cases each year. Around 400 new cases are diagnosed in Ireland every year. These cancers are considered largely preventable as the two major risk factors are consumption of alcohol and smoking.
I am delighted the above initiative has been brought about. I also think it should be a regular event given the cutbacks re dental and other services at present. I had surgery for a mouth cancer 13 years ago this October when I was 36 years old. I was not a smoker and in good health.
I had never even heard of anyone with a cancer in their mouth and when I had a persistent mouth ulcer I mentioned it in passing to my GP while I was in his surgery on an unrelated issue.
Thankfully he referred me immediately for further investigation as he was not happy with it.
Because I was detected so early on I only needed surgery to remove a part of my tongue and after 6 months was back talking etc without much difficulty.
It is therefore very important that these cancer's be highlighted and acted on early , I am for one very happy today that I was one of the fortunate ones.