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Dentists team up with health professionals to raise awareness of mouth cancer

Blog Author Tristen Kelso

Blog Date 29/11/2017


Pictured left to right: Derek Manson, BDA NIDPC; Eamonn Toner, BDA NIDPC; Peter Crooks, Chair BDA NIDPC and Gerry McElwee, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland


BDA Northern Ireland recently teamed up with leading cancer charity Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, the Health and Social Care Board, and the Public Health Agency, to help raise public awareness of oral cancer, and the vital role dentists play in oral cancer detection.

Two of BDA Northern Ireland's Dental Practice Committee members, Eamonn Toner and Derek Manson, kindly volunteered their time, to carry out  mouth checks on shoppers at the Park Centre, West Belfast, as part of our #mouthcheckni initiative.

Around 200 people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with mouth cancer each year, often at a late stage, with about a third of those diagnosed dying from the disease. Shockingly, the incidence of oral cancers look set to double by 2035.

Dentists play a vitally important role in detecting unusual changes in the mouth, lips, head and neck. This initiative was aimed to educate the public on the risk factors, and signs and symptoms of oral cancer, and achieve better health outcomes.

We were pleased to see so many people coming up to the bus, and taking the time to learn about what measures they can take to improve their oral health.

Initiatives like this are really important: we know that early detection is the key, but getting the message through to the general public, and particularly those that don't visit the dentist regularly, can be very difficult. The message is clear and simple: if in doubt, get it checked out. Regular dental check-ups could prove to be life-saving.

Getting out into the community, and partnering with other organisations to help us do this, is essential. We're delighted to have joined-up with Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and our statutory partners to highlight the central role dentists do play in mouth cancer detection. We will continue to try to work with groups like these to help fight the incidence of mouth cancers.

Search #mouthcheckni on Twitter for more information and photos from the day.

What can you do? Use the oral cancer toolkit

We have  developed a toolkit for dentists, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, a free online educational resource to help you spot the disease earlier. The toolkit includes information on what to look out for, how to refer patients for further tests and how to prevent the disease.


Tristen_Kelso_120px.jpgTristen Kelso

BDA Northern Ireland Director