Annual Oral Cancer Consortium Free Screenings
offered April and May 2019

During April and May 2019, NY and NJ residents can find out if they have any oral lumps or sores by attending a free oral cancer screening sponsored by the Oral Cancer Consortium. When the disease is detected early, the survival rate is 80 percent compared with less than 50 percent when found in the later stages.

Those who participate in the free screening will receive a comprehensive oral cancer examination administered by a dental professional. If in the examination, a suspicious looking red or white spot is found, the dental professional may administer a new, painless brush biopsy test to determine if there are any potentially pre-cancerous or cancerous cells present or suggest another appropriate treatment option.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early detection is key to increasing the survival rate for oral cancer and plays a significant role in patients' success in fighting the disease. However, only 15 percent of the population reports ever having an oral cancer examination and a mere seven percent reports receiving annual screenings.

"Early detection plays an important role in the success of treating many cancers," said Dr. Debra Cinotti, former Chair of the Oral Cancer Consortium and Associate Professor for Clinical Affairs at Stonybrook School of Dental Medicine. "It isn't any different with oral cancer. Our goal is to increase awareness of oral cancer and encourage people not only to become more aware of the abnormal spots in their mouths, but also to discuss oral cancer with their dentists. Since testing is now painless, it is simpler than ever to know for sure."

The Consortium, which consists of 26 metropolitan-area health care institutions and professional societies and more than 40 screening sites in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania area, is committed to educating local residents about the signs and risk factors associated with oral cancer, a disease that claims the life of one person per hour, and is more prevalent than cervical cancer or melanoma (skin cancer).

The Consortium's current Chair, Dr. Scott Podell, adds that "the outcome for patients with oral cancer detected at its earliest stages is dramatically different than the usual outcome for individuals who are diagnosed with advanced disease. This is true not only in terms of survival but for quality of life as well. Among the obstacles to early detection of oral cancer is that these lesions are painless and may be associated with very subtle color changes in the lining tissue of the mouth. Part of the mission of the Consortium is to enhance the education and the commitment of dentists and other clinicians who are in a position to find oral cancer at its earliest stages."

Oral Cancer
Oral cancer affects more than 30,000 Americans each year, claiming approximately 8,000 lives as compared to melanoma and cervical cancer, which account for approximately 7,000 and 5,000 deaths per year, respectively. Unlike other, more familiar cancers, the mortality rate for oral cancer has not improved in decades, killing approximately one half of patients diagnosed with this form of cancer. Precancerous and cancerous spots or sores are virtually indistinguishable from benign spots or sores that can form in the mouth. However, these can progress to more advanced, malignant stages, so an oral cancer examination should be performed to determine if they are precancerous. Smokers and those who consume large amounts of alcohol are at the highest risk for developing oral cancer, although many oral cancer sufferers have no obvious risk factors.

The goal of the Consortium is to raise awareness about oral cancer and the importance of prevention and early detection. Member institutions of the Consortium and their participating screening sites include New York University College of Dentistry, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Bushwick Health Center, Chelsea Health Center, Corona Health Center, Fort Greene Health Center, Washington Heights Health Center), New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (Cumberland Diagnostic and Treatment Center, East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Elmhurst Hospital Center, Gouverneur Nursing Facility and Diagnostic Treatment Center, Ira G. Israel Coney Island Community Health Center, Kings County Hospital, Lincoln Health Center, Metropolitan Hospital, Morrisania Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Queens Hospital Center, Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center), the New York County Dental Society, St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, JFK Memorial Center, NorthShore Long Island Jewish Health System Department of Dental Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, St. Barnabas Hospital, the New Jersey Dental Association, Atlantic Health Systems (Morristown Memorial Hospital, Mountainside Hospital), Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, the Essex County Health Department Dental Service, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Third District Dental Society (Albany), Queens County Dental Society, Second District Dental Society, Essex County Hospital Center, New Jersey Dental Association, Seton Hall University School of Graduate Medical Education, University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, Thyroid, Head and Neck Cancer Foundation (THANC), and St. Clare's Cancer Action Team.