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Every year, more than 300 cases of mouth cancer (oral cavity and pharynx) are reported in Ireland, according to the Irish Cancer Society (ICS).
While oral cancer has traditionally been more common in men, the ICS reports that this is changing, and the incidence rate of oral cancer in women has increased significantly at a rate of 3% per year.
According to the ICS, while oral cancer primarily affects older people, younger people are now being diagnosed.
In the United Kingdom, the incidence of mouth cancer has risen faster than that of any other cancer over the last 25 years, and according to the National Cancer Registry in Ireland, roughly half of all mouth cancers and even fewer pharyngeal cancers are diagnosed at an early stage.
According to the ICS, while it depends on the location of the cancer, more than half of those with oral cancer who receive treatment will have good survival outcomes, and this is improving year after year.
Early detection of oral cancer improves survival rates significantly, which is why oral cancer awareness day is so important.
Dentists play an important role in the early detection and prevention of mouth cancer by identifying patients who are at risk for the disease.
Dr. Laura Fee, clinical director at Smile Hub Dental Clinic, said Oral Cancer Awareness Day was a fantastic initiative and she would encourage everyone to visit their dentist for a free screening, especially those who haven’t seen one in a while.
Dr. Fee explained that an oral cancer screening takes only five minutes and that the dentist looks for several things during the check-up. Any lumps or bumps, swellings, ulcers that do not heal, and hardened tissue in the mouth are examples of these.