June 15, 2024

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Free oral cancer screening in Winnipeg on Saturday

For the first time since 2019, the Manitoba Dental Association and Never Alone Cancer Foundation are bringing back their annual oral cancer screenings.

“It allows patients who don’t have access to regular dental coverage or who don’t have the funds to pay for an exam out of pocket an opportunity to get screened for oral cancer at no charge,” explained Dr. Darryll Iwaszkiw, dentist with MB Dental Association Communications Committee.

“People who don’t go to the dentist regularly, they can come in and we can have a look and assess them if they’re concerned about any changes in the mouth or any lumps or bumps they may feel around their face or jaw.”

Dr. Iwaszkiw, says the exam is open to people of all ages and takes up to five minutes.

Dr Darryll Iwaszkiw, dentist & vice-chair of the Manitoba Dental Association Communications Committee. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

“The examination will include a visual and tactile exam done by a dentist with assistance by dental hygienists and dental assistants. If there’s any cause for concern, patients are then referred to oral surgery at Health Sciences Centre for further investigation,” explained Dr. Iwaszkiw.

Dr. Iwaszkiw says screenings are important. She says oral cancer is more prevalent in males over 50 and people who smoke and drink, but recently she’s been seeing HPV-related oral cancer in younger people.

We’re seeing a lot of cancers related to that in a demographic that wasn’t given an opportunity to get vaccinated for HPV … the demographic that’s about 50 [years old] right now obviously didn’t have that opportunity so it is very important to get screened even if you’re not a smoker or drinker because you could be more prone to it if you do have HPV in the mouth. You wouldn’t know if you had it.

Dentist Dr. Richard Santos says dentists screen for oral cancer during appointments, and look for patches and bumps.

“Early detection is sometimes tricky. Dentists are trained to spot the early signs, so patients have the best outcome and get the best recovery prognosis,” said Dr. Santos.

Dr Richard Santos, dentist & chair of the Manitoba Dental Association Communications Committee. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

“Usually by the time patients are able to feel there’s something in their mouth, that’s often later than we want it to be. As dentists, we’re often able to spot things before patients even know that they’re visible.”

Dr. Santos says screenings should happen regularly, and recommends people try to get to the dentist for exams when they can.

“It’s definitely worth getting checked out. Very often it’s nothing, but it’s just better to be safe than sorry,” said Dr. Santos.

Both Dr. Iwaszkiw and Dr. Santos will be at Garden City Shopping Centre on Saturday for free oral cancer screenings. Both say they hope for a high turnout so people can get screened and become more aware.

Dr Iwaszkiw says if people aren’t able to come to the screening or go to the dentist, people can also go to their family doctor for a check-up.

The Manitoba Dental Association and Never Alone Cancer Foundation are offering free oral cancer screenings on Saturday, October 14. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)