ADA oral cancer

April 11, 2011
Dentists offer free screenings in April 2011 for Oral Cancer Awareness Month.

CHICAGO, Illinois--The American Dental Association and the Oral Cancer Foundation encourage people to take part in Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April 2011 by visiting a dentist for a free oral cancer screening.

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So far, more than 1,250 sites across the nation have registered their screening events with the OCF.

“Although many dentists perform oral cancer screenings as a routine part of dental examinations, the ADA encourages dentists to go out into their communities during the week of April 11-15 to provide free oral cancer screenings to people who might not regularly visit a dentist,” said ADA spokesperson Sol Silverman, DDS, a professor of oral medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

“Early detection is critical in increasing survival rates for patients who have developed an oral cancer; and recognizing and managing precancerous lesions is extremely important in prevention,” he said.

Brian Hill, OCF executive director and an oral cancer survivor, also stressed the importance of early detection and the important role that dentists play.

“Early detection is important because it reduces treatment-related morbidity and improves survival rates” he said.

In 2010, the National Cancer Institute estimated that approximately 36,540 people were diagnosed with oral cancer and approximately 7,880 people died of oral cancer. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that the five-year survival rate for people diagnosed early, when the disease has not spread beyond the original location, is approximately 83% compared to a 20% survival rate for those who were diagnosed when the cancer has spread to other organs.

In 2010, the Journal of the American Dental Association published “Evidence-based Clinical Recommendations Regarding Screening for Oral Squamous Cell Carcinomas," which was developed by an expert panel convened by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. The panel’s report concluded that clinicians should remain alert for signs of potentially cancerous lesions while performing routine visual and tactile examinations in all patients during dental appointments.

Risk factors for mouth and throat cancers include tobacco use, heavy consumption of alcohol, particularly when they are used together, as well as infection with the human papillomavirus, better known as HPV.

To locate free oral cancer screening programs in your area, visit the OCF Web site at To learn more about oral cancer, visit the ADA’s Web site at

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