This month our office formed a team of walkers who will be participating in the Relay for Life on July 8, 2017 at Keiser’s Chemawa Indian School. Our team name is Smiles for the Cure! Last year was our first time participating in this event and within only 30 days we were able to raise over $1500 that went to the American Cancer Society for cancer research. This year we are starting earlier and hope to raise much more.
You might ask why we choose to support the Relay for Life. Not only has cancer affected members of our office, but Oral Cancer Screening is a free service we provide our patients during oral exams and over the last two years have actually identified oral cancer in its early stages for two of our patients. With early treatment, they were able to beat this cancer!
There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% originate in the tissues that line the mouth and lips. Oral cancer most commonly involves the tongue. It may also occur on the floor of the mouth, cheek lining, gums, lips, or roof of the mouth.
Like other cancers that are screened for, oral cancers should be screened for annually. The visual and tactile screenings we perform are quick, painless and non-invasive to undergo. The fact that this type of cancer occurs in an area of the body that lends itself relatively easy to examination, is an asset to early detection in many cases.
The Oral Cancer Foundation has stressed the importance of regular screening, “Front of the mouth oral cancers, usually related to tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption or a genetic predisposition in a small number of cases, often produce visible pre-cancerous tissue changes that can be seen with the naked eye. In the very rear of the mouth known as the oropharynx, cancer can occur related to tobacco, use but now more frequently it is caused by the HPV16 virus, one that is commonly associated with cervical and other cancers. Therefore, do not think that because you are a non-smoker that you should skip these important screenings.”1 In 2013, oral cancer resulted in 135,000 deaths up from 84,000 deaths in 1990.2 Five-year survival rates in the United States are 63%.3
So, with this information, I think you can see why we support the Relay for Life. We do it for our loved ones and we do it for our patients!
Written by: Dr. Cheryl Cooper DDS, Smiles Dental, Salem Oregon & Relay for Life Walker
1 Oral Cancer Foundation. Screening. http://oralcancerfoundation.org/screening/
2 GBD 2013 Mortality Causes of Death Collaborators (2015). “Global, regional, and national age–sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013”. The Lancet. 385 (9963): 117–71. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61682-2. PMC 4340604 . PMID 25530442.
3 “SEER Stat Fact Sheets: Oral Cavity and Pharynx Cancer”. NCI. Retrieved 18 June 2014.