Help raise oral cancer awareness in April

With almost 50,000 people in the U.S. estimated to be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, dentists are urged to take part in Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April to help spread information about the prevention of oral cancer and the need for early detection.

While smoking and tobacco use are still major risk factors, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals due to the connection to the HPV virus, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. HPV is the same virus responsible for the majority of cervical cancers in women.

The OCF suggests that dentists can pass along information about oral cancer prevention by offering a simple cost-free visual and tactile screening to patients during awareness month. This community outreach can be done in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Offer scheduled screenings throughout the month that let interested patrons call to request appointments. This way the staff can schedule screenings at the most convenient times allowing for more oral screenings to be completed while making the most of the staff’s time.
  • Block out a minimum of three hours for an in-office event for walk-ins and appointments.
  • Choose a day to hold an event outside of the office, such as at a local drugstore or shopping center, preferably on weekends for the best turnout and walk-up traffic. Stores may be willing to help provide marketing, banners, tables and chairs and other necessary supplies and equipment.

For other helpful tips on promoting and participating in Oral Cancer Awareness Month, visit oralcancerfoundation.org or go to mouthhealthy.org to find educational information to share with patients. CDA’s oral cancer fact sheet is also available for printing in multiple languages.

To help patients become tobacco free, check out the online tobacco cessation information at betobaccofree.hhs.gov or smokefree.gov or refer patients to 800.QUITNOW (800.784.8669) or 800.NOBUTTS (800.662.8887) for phone support and to set up a personalized plan to quit.

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