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April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

March 15, 2012
April is just around the corner, and the month highlights oral cancer awareness and oral cancer prevention. In this issue, FOCUS Editorial Director Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, emphasizes to hygienists that oral cancer screenings should be a routine element of dental hygiene and dental appointments.
By Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS
While we should be screening patients for oral and pharyngeal cancer daily, April has been designated as the month when we highlight this disease, and increase awareness about its prevention and treatment. It is not possible to include everything in this issue, so the next RDH eVillage FOCUS will also feature articles related to oral cancer.In this newsletter, you will see one of two interviews conducted by Allison Walker and me. I had the assistance of Allison, a freelance journalist who has been involved in dental publishing for more than 20 years. I had the pleasure of working with Allison when she was with the Compendium, as well as when she and I worked at Advanstar Communications. We continue to collaborate today. Allison is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Thank you, Allison, for your time and expertise.
April highlights oral cancer awareness, and oral cancer prevention. Oral cancer screenings should be a routine element of dental hygiene and dental appointments. It is vital to stress the importance of early detection and the oral health care professional’s role in the effort. Late identification of lesions results in a later stage disease when diagnosed and an increase in morbidity and mortality. For a poster for your operatory, visit the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) website.(1) For information on oral health issues, and to order free publications, visit the NIDCR website.(2)
The Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) encourages dental hygienists and dentists to take part in Oral Cancer Awareness Week by signing up to conduct at least three hours of free public screenings in their community, any time during the month of April. The OCF will provide professionals who host events with literature, customized press releases that can be used in local community media opportunities, talking points sheets, oral cancer screening forms, patient referral forms and other support materials for office screenings.Patients will be able to locate free programs in their area and sign up for screenings on the OCF's website.(3) The OCF site also contains a list of other awareness-related events, such as oral cancer walks and in several states. For more information or to register your event, visit the website. In 2010, the National Cancer Institute estimated that 36,540 people were diagnosed with oral cancer, resulting in 7,880 deaths. The 5-year survival rate for those diagnosed early is 75% compared to a 20% survival rate in those whose cancer has spread, reports the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.As well, an oral cancer survivor and dear friend has good information in this issue and on her website.(4) She is inspirational and motivational. The Six-step Screening is from Eva’s website.(5) You can download and print the Six-Step Screening Card.(6)

Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS

To read previous RDH eVillage FOCUS introductions by Editorial Director Maria Perno Goldie, go to introductions.