A Limerick farmer has revealed how his third visit to the dentist in 27 years proved life-saving after he was diagnosed with oral cancer.
Orgel Murphy, who hails from Garryspillane, made the rare visit to the dentist after breaking a tooth.
It turned out that he had much more serious health problems and owes his life to the attentive dentist who, during his dental examination, discovered signs of a tumor under his tongue.
Morgan said: “I was 54 at the time and had no symptoms, I had no idea there was a tumor there. In many ways I was lucky that I broke a tooth and cut my tongue.”
After being referred for tests and specialist care, he was told of the diagnosis in March 2015 and was on the operating table five weeks later.
A grateful Morgan yesterday: “Doctors had to remove 75 per cent of my tongue but it could have been a lot worse. I have no doubt that going to the dentist saved my life.”
He was speaking on the occasion of Oral Cancer Awareness Day, which encourages people to have regular dental check-ups and claim a free check-up through their PRSI or health card.
A free oral exam is available to nearly 80 percent of the population, but 70 percent do not take it, even though dentists are experienced in spotting potential early signs of oral cancer.
It’s a reminder that an oral cancer diagnosis is life changing. I would advise people to listen to their bodies
Early detection of oral cancer improves the chances of survival, and the dentist’s check-up only takes a few minutes as they look for lumps, bumps, or other signs such as ulcers.
Although smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, and excessive exposure to the sun or radiation can increase your chance of developing oral cancer, it can also occur without any risk factors.
Róisín Whelan, from Monkstown, Dublin, was only 19 when she was told she had oral cancer in 2004.
“It came out of nowhere – I had been ill for a year beforehand and was extremely tired. I also suffered from hearing loss and after several tests a large bump was discovered in my mouth, throat and ear area,” Ms Whelan said.
She had intensive radiation and chemotherapy and is now cancer-free, although she says she’s still feeling the effects.
“Recently I started feeling the side effects of the radiation I received at the time. It’s a reminder that an oral cancer diagnosis is life-changing and, in some ways, your journey doesn’t begin until your treatment is complete. I would advise people to listen to their bodies,” said Róisín, who is a psychotherapist.
About 700 cases of mouth, head and neck cancer are diagnosed annually. About 300 of these are oral cancer.
dr Conor McAlister, from the Irish Dental Association, urged people with wounds or ulcers that don’t heal within three weeks to get tested.
“Other signs include white or red patches in the mouth, a lump or persistent sore throat or hoarseness,” said Dr. McAlister.
“If you or someone you know has not been to the dentist for a long time, we urge you to have them checked out.
“Early detection can save your life – see your dentist regularly.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/a-trip-to-the-dentist-saved-my-life-how-rare-dental-trip-for-a-broken-tooth-led-to-discovery-of-tumour-under-tongue-42005612.html “A visit to the dentist saved my life” – how rarely does a visit to the dentist for a broken tooth lead to the discovery of a tumor under the tongue