Walk for Oral Cancer Awareness

In celebration of Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April, dental hygiene students at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif., conducted the Third Annual Walk for Oral Cancer Awareness on the college campus. Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, reviews the successful event.

Foothill Students Walk Fo

April was Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Many organizations celebrate in a variety of ways to raise awareness of the diseases, prevention, and screening. Oral Cancer Cause, the Oral Cancer Foundation, and many other groups have walks, screening, and other activities to increase consciousness of oral cancer, its known causes, risk factors, and preventive strategies.(1,2)

For more about Oral Cancer Awareness Month, read a recently published article.(3)

Foothill College is a community college located in Los Altos Hills, California, and is part of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. The Foothill College dental hygiene students held the third annual Walk for Oral Cancer Awareness on the Los Altos Hills campus on April 12, 2014.(4) The students organized the walk during "Oral Cancer Awareness Month” in order to support the activities of the Oral Cancer Foundation, and their work in the area of prevention, education, research, advocacy, and patient support.

Students Cancer Walk Fo

Families and friends came out to support the students in their efforts to raise awareness of oral cancer

One of the primary purposes of the walk is to increase public awareness, especially in younger age groups, of the increased risk in developing oral cancer due to exposure to the human papilloma virus. The Foothill walk was especially significant since it was primarily student driven and organized under the umbrella of the campus Organization Board of Directors and Leaders at the college. The event brought students, their families, friends and local supporters, including the college president, Judy Miner, out to walk the athletic track, and raised over $9,000 for the Oral Cancer Foundation. Plans are already underway for another walk in 2015!

Kudos to the Foothill students, and their dedication to oral health promotion and disease prevention.

For more information on oral cancer research and support activities, visit www.oralcancerfoundation.org.

Oral Cancer Walkers Fo

Early morning walkers include (left to right) Student Chapter Advisor Cathy Draper, Walk Coordinator Rachel Galli, FC President Judy Miner, Students Angela Bolaza and Jennifer Nauman, faculty members Catherine Kornegay and Joyce Bettencourt

While April has passed, every day is one where we should be educating patients and communities about oral cancer. Oral and pharyngeal cancer kills almost one person every hour of every day of the year.(5) Of the people newly diagnosed with these cancers, only about 60% will live longer than 5 years. Lifelong challenges with severe facial disfigurement or difficulties eating and speaking are common side effects of treatment, and the mortality rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development.

Perform regular oral cancer exams on all patients!!

Balloons Cancer Walk Fo

Walk organizers gather under the balloon arch before starting the day

RELATED | April brings opportunity to commemorate several oral health causes

** Editor’s Note: Thanks to Cathy Draper, RDH, MS, for her assistance with this article.

1. http://oralcancercause.org.
2. http://oralcancerfoundation.org.
3. http://www.dentistryiq.com/articles/2014/04/april-is-oral-cancer-awareness.html.
4. Press release.
5. http://www.aaoms.org/media/raise-oral-cancer-awareness/.

More by Maria Perno Goldie:
May is National Stroke Awareness Month
Gen Z: A new beginning or beginning of the end?

Maria Perno Goldie 2014b FoMaria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, is the editorial director of RDH eVillage FOCUS.

More in Clinical Hygiene