'Trip to the dentist saved my life': Limerick farmer speaks out about mouth cancer diagnosis

'Trip to the dentist saved my life': Limerick farmer speaks out about mouth cancer diagnosis

Mouth cancer can be caused by smoking cigarettes.

A Limerick farmer has urged people to go for regular dental checkups after his dentist identified a cancerous tumour growing in his mouth.

Typically, 300 cases of mouth cancer are diagnosed in Ireland every year with the first signs often a mouth ulcer.

In Morgan Murphy’s case, however, he had no symptoms. He had only attended three dental appointments in 27 years until a broken tooth saw him in the dentist’s chair.

“I was 54 and had no symptoms, I had no idea there was a tumour there. In many ways, I was lucky I broke my tooth and cut my tongue,” he said.

Tongue loss

Following diagnosis, he was operated upon within five weeks, he added.

“The doctors were forced to remove 75% of my tongue but it could have been a lot worse,” he said. 

“I’ve no doubt that the trip to the dentist saved my life.” 

Free dental check-ups are available for people on medical cards and anyone paying PRSI.

However, the Irish Dental Association (IDA) said less than one in three people entitled to this free check take it up.

Cigarettes and alcohol

Mouth cancer can affect anyone, but risks include excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and over-exposure to sunlight or radiation. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or marijuana, as well as chewing smokeless tobacco, betel quid, or paan can also lead to increased risk of this cancer.

Research has also shown using tobacco and alcohol together leads to increased health risks, as well as exposure to HPV (human papilloma virus), or not eating enough fruit and vegetables.

Dr Conor McAlister said people should make an appointment with a dentist if they have a sore or ulcer which does not heal within three weeks.

‘Other signs are white or red patches in the mouth, a lump or persistent sore throat or hoarseness,” he said.

“If you or someone you know hasn’t visited the dentist in a long time, we would urge you to get it checked out."

More information at: www.mouthcancer.ie.

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