The mouth examinations were organised by Dublin Dental School and Hospital, Cork University Dental School and Hospital and the Irish Cancer Society, and supported by local mouth and neck cancer survivors.
Over 3,000 people attended the open sessions at the two centres, with three early and two established cases of cancer discovered in Dublin, and one in Cork. A further case was discovered when a man who was unable to wait any longer for his free examination decided to go and consult his dentist anyway, and is already undergoing radiation treatment.
Three Irish people die from mouth cancer every week, and early diagnosis of the condition is essential if the disease is to have any chance of being treated successfully. Early diagnosis and treatment raises survival rates to 80%; a vast improvement on the 10-35% survival rate for those who are diagnosed with established mouth cancer.
Dr Denise MacCarthy, a surgeon at the Dublin Dental Hospital, said: “We were overwhelmed with the public’s response to the open days. While the exam was not a definitive test for head, neck and mouth cancer, it was a visual exam of superficial tissues and superficial instances are the most common presentation in the mouth.”
Dr Eleanor O’Sullivan of Cork University Dental Hospital and School said: “There’s a strong link between many mouth, head and neck cancers and smoking and alcohol intake. The open days gave us the opportunity to inform people of the signs and symptoms, and encourage them to attend their dentist or GP for a check-up.”