Mouth Cancer Awareness Day takes place Wednesday 21st September- and like every year Portobello Dental are delighted to offer our services and expertise in the area. We are offering free oral cancer screening to anyone who is worried about having suspected oral cancer.

According to the National Cancer Registry in Ireland, roughly half of all mouth cancers and even fewer cancers of the pharynx are diagnosed at an early stage. This can result in more complex treatment with greater impact on quality of life and overall survival. Whilst it depends on the cancer site, we know that more than half of those treated will have good survival outcomes and these continue to improve each year.

Early detection of mouth cancer greatly improves the chances of survival.

To find out more about mouth cancer, the signs and symptoms, the risk factors or other information about cancer please follow the link

Dentists have a key role to play in the early detection of mouth cancer and in the prevention of the disease by identifying those patients who are exposed to risk factors.

What are the signs and symptoms of oral cancer?

The most significant sign to look for is an ulcer or sore in the mouth that is not healing

Oral Cancer of the lip

Oral cancer of  the tongue

Also look out for;


  •  The development of velvety white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth
  •  Unexplained bleeding in the mouth
  •  Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck
  •  Persistent sores on the face, neck, or mouth that bleed easily and do not heal within two weeks
  •  A soreness or feeling that something is caught in the back of the throat
  •  Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  •  Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or changes in the voice
  •  Ear pain
  •  A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together – a change in your “bite”
  • Dramatic weight loss

There is absolutely no need to be nervous of the oral cancer exam; see below for an outline of what the dentist will do on the day.

— A mouth cancer exam is painless and quick — it takes only a few minutes —

Here’s what to expect:

1 – Preparing for the exam: If you have dentures (plates), you will be asked to remove them.
2 – Your health care provider will inspect your face, neck, lips and mouth to look for any signs of cancer.
3 – With both hands, he or she will feel the area under your jaw and the side of your neck, checking for lumps that may suggest cancer.
4 – Next, your provider will have you stick out your tongue so it can be checked for swelling or abnormal colour or texture.
5 – In addition, he or she will look at the roof and floor of your mouth, as well as the back of your throat.
6 – He or she will then look at and feel the insides of your lips and cheeks to check for possible signs of cancer, such as red and/or white patches.
7 – Using gauze, he or she will then gently pull your tongue to one side, then the other, to check the base of your tongue. The underside of your tongue will also be checked.
8 – Finally, your provider will put one finger on the floor of your mouth and, with the other hand under your chin, gently press down to check for lumps or sensitivity.

You may be referred for further tests but there’s no need to be alarmed – there are many possible explanations for a variety of symptoms.

To book a FREE Oral Cancer Screening Exam please contact; 01 – 4542022




Summer may fade but lip cancer, a form of mouth cancer caused largely by the sun, cares little about seasons. Lips are extremely vulnerable to burning, premature aging and lip cancer. Solar damage is a risk even through cloud and in Winter time. Men over 40 run the greatest risk of developing lip cancer, though it can affect anyone who spends much time outdoors. It is thought that lip cancer may affect more men than women, principally because outdoor work such as farming, fishing and forestry traditionally attracts more males.

Unlike the rest of our skin, lips do not produce melanin. This is the pigment that generates a tan but also provides some natural protection from the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Chronic sun exposure can later lead to Aktinic Keratosis (potentially pre-cancerous crusting) or ultimately, lip cancer.

SCC lip
Lip Cancer. photo courtesy of The Skin Cancer Foundation


Lip cancer is considered both a mouth cancer and a skin cancer. The tell-tale symptom is a sore, lesion or lump that won’t heal. The lips may be painful and/or bleed.

If treated too late there is a chance, though small, that it may spread to other organs. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (USA), lip cancer is ‘not uncommon’ but if treated early, it is ‘almost always curable.’ However, the relapse rate post-treatment can be as high as 35%. In advanced stages or recurrent cases some studies show that the mortality rate reaches up to 15%. (source)

The general risks associated with mouth cancers are gender (male), age (40+), smoking or tobacco chewing, alcohol abuse, compromised immune system and in some cases, Human Papillomvirus (HPV) which is spread via oral sex. But when it comes to lips, extended or repeated sun exposure is the primary threat.


The Irish Cancer Society‘s advises adults to use sunscreen with minimum SPF15 and UV protection in addition to seeking shade and covering up. A baseball hat is insufficient headgear as the shade doesn’t always reach the lower face. If participating in water sports or sweating a lot, use a sunscreen that is water resistant (80 minutes protection). Reapply every two hours and after towelling.

Skiing poses a high risk of sunburn. Snow reflects and amplifies the sun’s harmful rays. In addition to the fore-mentioned precautions, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends avoiding the slopes between 10am and 4pm when the sun is at its strongest and to carry travel sized sunscreen for handy reapplication.


 IMG_2858We asked Selene Daly, Dermatology Clinical Nurse Specialist in Sligo Regional Hospital and spokesperson for the Irish Skin Foundation, for specific lip care advice.

‘I would strongly recommend factor 50 sticks in high summer, for hiking, sun holidays and when out on open water’ says Selene. She also strongly recommends SPF 50 for sufferers of coldsores, which are more often triggered by UV light.

When it comes to off season or short term sun exposure though Selene advocates high protection (50)  ‘SPF15 is better than using nothing at all. ‘She explains that ‘it’s difficult to know how stable this filter is if the lipstick has been used for more than 6 months or stored inappropriately.’ Her advice is to read the labels for optimum storage temperatures and  to note the expiry date, usually 6 months to 1 year.


There has been debate that shiny lip glosses with no sunscreen present greater risk than going bare lipped when out and about. Selene throws some light on the question; ‘many Dermatologists feel these glossy lip products may increase the risk of skin [lip] cancer.  The action of the gloss changes the nature of the skin and can allow UV light to penetrate deeper thus increasing the chance of DNA mutation. ‘

This past month, members of the team at Portobello Dental Clinic , male and female, decided to get lippy.  We gave a variety of sun screening lip products a test run. To see our verdicts, you can check back with our blog tomorrow.

If you are worried about a sore on your lip or in your mouth do get it checked. This Wednesday, 17th September is Mouth Cancer Awareness Day. You can book in for a Free mouth cancer screening, which only takes 10 minutes, by phoning us on 01 4542022.