Community Outreach: Walking away from Cancer
According to the ADA, oral and pharyngeal cancers strike approximately 39,000 Americans causing 8,000 deaths annually. Oral cancers are still one of the most destructive diseases. The good news is when found at early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80 to 90% of survival rate. The bad news is that at this time, most of the oral cancers are found at late stages, accounting for an unfortunate 5-year mortality rate of about 43%. As future dental professionals, we can be part of the change in bringing down this mortality rate by being the first line of defense in early detection of the disease.
In recent years, ASDA Community Outreach committee has partnered up with the school’s Office of Global and Population Health to organize oral cancer screening events in nearby neighborhoods. With background in Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine didactic courses, third and fourth year dental students can perform the screening under supervision of a faculty. Screening results are informed to each patient, and appropriate referral recommendations are made to those patients that need further examination in proper setting. Patients that heavily use tobacco and alcohol together have a significantly increased risk of developing oral and pharyngeal cancers.
This year, the Community Outreach committee in conjunction with the Health and Wellness committee is stepping up their game with our debut participation in the Oral Cancer Walk/Run on October 4th in an effort to spread local awareness. The walk/run is organized by the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) which uses its donations in various ways: funding research, creating public awareness and distributing information about the disease, pressing for more professional involvement in early detection, and providing patient support. The Oral Cancer Research Initiative has also joined forces with the OCF to raise public awareness and fund cancer research. Participants can walk or run a 5k course at the scenic Chestnut Hill Reservoir at 355 Chestnut Hill Ave., Brighton. All students and faculty are welcome.
As for me, besides the fact that my vice chair and the ASDA board are working hard to put this together, I am even more excited for the event because I haven’t run a registered 5k before. So come out and join me in my first 5k for a good cause!