patient screenings optAs dental professionals are often the first to detect oral cancer, the Oral Cancer Foundation is asking dental and orthodontic professionals to hold free screening events in their communities during the month of April as part of Oral Cancer Awareness Month. The foundation is offering to support these screenings with materials needed to conduct the event and information on publicizing the event in the community.

Today, the disease is the sixth most common cancer in the world, with 75% of oral cancer related to lifestyle choices. Approximately 42,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, according to the foundation. This includes both those cancers that occur in the mouth itself, as well as in the oropharynx and on the exterior of the lip of the mouth.

For the fifth year in a row there has been an increase in the rate of occurrence of oral cancers.

Most people develop oral cancer as a result of either tobacco and alcohol use or exposure to the HPV-16 virus. A small percentage—under 7%—develop oral cancer from no currently identified cause, according to the foundation. These cases are believed to be linked to a genetic predisposition.

When detected in the early stages of development, oral cancers have an 80% to 90% survival rate.

All offices that hold screening events this year will receive a certificate of partnership with the Oral Cancer Foundation and Oral Cancer Awareness Month.