Mouth Cancer Awareness Day takes place on Wednesday 18th September

Mouth Cancer Awareness Day takes place on Wednesday 18th September

(11 Sep 2013)

“People think it’s never going to happen to me, but sometimes it does”

Two people die every week from mouth cancer

Mouth Cancer Awareness Day Wednesday 18th September

Free mouth cancer examinations at over 500 dental surgeries nationwide

A mouth cancer survivor who was diagnosed with the disease following an examination on Mouth Cancer Awareness Day in 2011 has urged people to avail of free oral examinations next week.

Speaking at the launch of MCAD 2013, Jimmy McGrath, from Cappoquinn in Waterford, said the five minute examination changed his life.

“I had a spot on the roof of my mouth which wouldn’t go away. A family member heard about Mouth Cancer Awareness Day and I went in to Cork University Dental School and Hospital and had an exam. They knew straightaway there was a problem and they arranged for an appointment with a specialist within days. It doesn’t cost anything and I would recommend it to everyone to have an exam. People think it’s never going to happen to me, but sometimes it does” Jimmy said.

Despite receiving a course of chemotherapy and radio therapy a biopsy showed the tumour was still there and fifty eight year old Jimmy opted to have surgery. During the thirteen and a half hour operation his teeth were removed and the roof of his mouth was reconstructed. 

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. The cause of mouth cancer is not fully known but your risk is greater if you smoke or consume excess alcohol, especially spirits. If you do both the risk is greater again. 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.

Free mouth cancer examinations will be available to members of the public at over 500 participating dental surgeries countrywide and at the Cork University Dental School and Hospital on MCAD, Wednesday 18th September 2013.

Members of the public can find a list of participating dentists in their area by logging on to They can then phone the surgery to find out the exact times examinations are available.

Three hundred cases of mouth cancer are detected in Ireland each year and this type of cancer now kills more Irish people than cervical cancer or skin melanoma. This is the fourth year of the campaign to highlight mouth cancer and since the first awareness day in 2010 approximately 18,000 free examinations have been carried out and 21 cases of mouth cancer have been diagnosed.

According to the National Cancer Register in Ireland, approximately 50% of all mouth cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage. This can result in more complex treatment with a greater impact on quality of life and overall survival.

Mouth Cancer Awareness Day was initiated by a group of mouth, head and neck cancer survivors in September 2010. On that occasion, over 3,000 people queued outside the Cork and Dublin Dental University Hospitals for a free mouth cancer examination.

Since 2011 the Irish Dental Association has thrown its full support behind the initiative and will be doing so again this year.

“This disease doesn’t get as much attention as other cancers but it is very important that people become aware of the risk factors. Raising awareness is what MCAD is all about. But many people will also have to take the next step and make necessary lifestyle changes” Dr McAlister said.

Overall less than 50% of patients diagnosed with mouth cancer survive more than five years. There are over 300 incidences of this disease every year with 100 or more deaths. That means two Irish people are dying every week from this lethal disease. However if it is detected early, the chances of a good outcome are greatly enhanced.

Mouth Cancer Awareness Day is a joint initiative by the Irish Dental Association, Irish Cancer Society, Dublin Dental University Hospital, Cork Dental University Hospital, the Dental Health Foundation and Mouth, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Ireland.

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.

For Further Information

Contact Kieran Garry

Gordon MRM

01/6650455 or 087/2368366

Note to Editor

The main risk factors of Mouth Cancer are:

  • Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes or marijuana
  • Chewing smokeless tobacco, betel quid or paan
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Using both tobacco and alcohol together – this greatly increases your risk
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight or radiation 
  • Exposure to the Human papilloma virus (HPV) through sexual contact
  • A diet lacking in fruit and vegetables