April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 1, 2012
For the past five years, I’ve been opening all of my seminars with a discussion of oral cancer awareness.

For the past five years, I’ve been opening all of my seminars with a discussion of oral cancer awareness. I hope that I have influenced some dentists and dental team members to introduce an oral mucosa screening regimen into their practice routine. Lately, I’ve been challenging my audiences with these questions:

When was the last time you heard about a walk or run for oral cancer? Have you ever received a bracelet for oral cancer?

Shame on us! This is the reason for our startling cover this month! We are trying to wake up the dental profession!

You always hear about breast cancer and cervical cancer, but oral cancer kills and disfigures many more people than either of these. It upsets me when I hear of a dental industry company starting a breast cancer program and donating money to breast cancer research, but they make no mention of oral cancer.

Hold on. I just received an invitation to the First Annual Northern Illinois Oral Cancer Awareness Walk 2012. The invitation came from the Midwest VELscope representative, Amy Frazin:

“WELCOME TO THE INAUGURAL ILLINOIS ORAL CANCER AWARENESS WALK! Members and friends of the Northern Illinois dental community are excited to host this groundbreaking event. Oral cancer, which includes the head and neck region, is taking more lives than many other cancers we routinely hear about, killing one American per hour! The most significant effort to reduce the death rate from oral cancer is coming from early detection and increased awareness of this disease. Our approximately five-mile walk will aim to educate participants about many of the current facts and trends related to oral cancer, and will conclude with a free oral cancer screening. All proceeds raised will benefit the Oral Cancer Foundation. Sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Alison Stahl, event coordinator. Go to http://donate.oralcancer.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.eventDetails&eventID=511 for more information.”

Let’s see if we can all join Illinois with more events that will get the word out about oral cancer. I know it is difficult to talk to patients about this disease, especially when it is discovered late and the patient is already in Stage 4, where two in four people will not survive. In my practice, we have worked with communication specialists to help us in this vital communication and education process. The entire dental team has such a great role to play in the early detection and prevention of the death toll that we are now seeing. I find that the best information on oral cancer is available from the Oral Cancer Foundation, which offers the latest information on current research and what is happening around the country. Contact Brian Hill at www.oralcancerfoundation.org. You will be glad you did!

In mid-February, my wife, Sue, and I traveled to Rome where we were able to join in the celebration of the elevation of 22 bishops into the College of Cardinals. Our dear friend, the Archbishop of New York, was one of the 22, and he is now Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan. We spent a week in Rome participating with him in many religious and social functions. For us, it was the trip of a lifetime! Please pray for Cardinal Dolan to continue to be a strong voice in the American Catholic Church.

We arrived home just in time for the start of the Chicago Midwinter Meeting, which I attended while fighting jet lag. It was a great meeting with a busy exhibit floor where many new products were launched. I will be evaluating these products for use in future “Pearls For Your Practice” columns. There were many great programs given by outstanding speakers.

I have spent the first part of March catching up on my many unanswered emails after being out of the office for more than two weeks. I am just now beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I hope to see some of you at the CDA meeting in Anaheim at the beginning of May.

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor
email: [email protected]

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