THOUGH mouth cancer can be spotted easily by a dentist, a dental services survey has shown 44 per cent of Cypriot residents only visit the dentist in an emergency and almost 39 per cent wrongly believe mouth cancer is hereditary.
During a health ministry press conference on Tuesday, the state’s dental services said free checks for mouth cancer will be available this Friday at the general hospitals of Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos by the dental services’ mobile units set up by the entrances.
Mouth or oral cancer usually develops on the surface of the tongue, mouth, lips or gums though it can also occur in parts of the throat, the salivary glands or tonsils.
A dental services’ survey from December 2012, showed many of the public were ignorant as to the causes of mouth cancer or else did not take preventative actions. Some 234 residents of Cyprus opted to answer a questionnaire on mouth cancer as part of mouth cancer checks offered by dental services across Cyprus.
A total of 44 per cent of those asked said they would only visit a dentist during an emergency, which dental services said took away a powerful tool of prevention as a dentist should be able to spot symptoms. And almost a third of those asked said they did not brush their teeth for the full length of the two minutes recommended by experts.
About a third or 33.8 per cent of those asked said they smoked. Men tended to be far heavier smokers and drinkers than women. Mouth cancer also tends to impact men more than women, which correlates with the differences in lifestyle, a dental services official said.
And two thirds of those asked said they were not aware of preventative visual checks, while 38.9 per cent wrongly thought mouth cancer was hereditary.
Between 1998 and 2009 there were 311 new mouth cancer incidents in Cyprus, the head of dental services Christina Yiannaki said.
Risk of getting mouth cancer rises after the age of 40, with smokers accounting for 80 per cent of mouth cancer patients. But drinking and sun exposure are also major factors, Yiannaki said. However, the symptoms, usually sores, white or red dots around the lips or mouth are easily spotted, while catching mouth cancer early pushes survival rates up, Yiannaki said.
The rule to remember is that if there is any sort of wound around the mouth area that remains for longer than ten days, then it is time to see a doctor, Yiannaki said.