Competition among dental schools to educate about oral cancer

March 10, 2009
Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Tufts and Harvard universities and the University of Connecticut walk to raise awareness.

Mention cancer and most people think breast, lung, or prostate.

But oral cancer kills nearly half of all people diagnosed with the disease in five years, largely because patients do not recognize the symptoms.

That statistic got Courtney Brady, a second-year dental student at Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine, and first-year student Dee Gulis thinking about what they could do to get the word out about oral cancer.

Brady and Gulis are leading a team BUGSDM students, faculty, staff, and friends to Relay for Life--a 12-hour walk/run event at the Boston University Track and Tennis Center from 6 p.m. April 18 to 6 a.m. April 19, 2009.

"Too often, oral cancer is pushed off to the side when people talk about cancer," Brady said. "We want to make sure people know that oral cancer can be deadly and that they know the symptoms. It is a disease people need to watch out for."

Brady has invited other dental schools in Northeast district 1 of the American Student Dental Association to join BUGSDM. Now BUGSDM, Tufts and Harvard universities, and the University of Connecticut are vying to recruit the most team members.

"While raising money is important, our goal for this first year is seeing a lot of participation from our school," Brady said. "We want everybody to get involved and see how great this event is and for it to grow into a huge event for BUGSDM each year to come."

The BUGSDM team is adding a twist to the event--an oral cancer education booth. According to Brady and Gulis, it is the first of its kind at a Relay for Life event nationwide. Walkers from the 100 teams scheduled to attend Relay for Life can learn about oral cancer between laps around the track.

When not walking, participants will fill their time listening to local bands, playing football inside the track lanes, camping out with friends and classmates, and visiting other teams' booths to learn about the causes they support.

You do not need to be athletic to join, according to Gulis.

"If you can walk, you can participate," she said.

Brady added that, in addition to supporting oral cancer awareness, attending Relay for Life is a great way to kick off Marathon Monday, which follows April 20.

Anyone can support BUGSDM's Relay for Life team or join for a $10 registration fee with no obligation to raise more money.

To learn more, visit Relay for Life.

To read more about Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

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