Has there ever been a moment in your life where you felt that you should be a part of something bigger than yourself? An organization, a charity, or a non-profit perhaps? Humans are born with the innate desire to help others, so it’s no wonder that we may feel the need to give back to the world in one way or another. And sometimes, it’s the simple acts that yield the most difference. This month you have the opportunity to get involved with a sweeping issue that goes unnoticed too often, and you may help save a life by doing it.
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and we need to stir up some conversation. Oral cancer awareness in the American public is extremely low, with very little acknowledgment of its devastating realities. According to the AAOMS, oral and pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the upper throat and mouth) collectively kills nearly one person of every hour of everyday of the year. Approximately 48,250 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. While smoking and tobacco use are still major risk factors, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is healthy, young, nonsmoking individuals. We know this sounds scary, but the truth of the matter is that it is scary, and we need to confront the concern head on.
Awareness is so much more than just knowing about an issue, it’s also about collective, meaningful action. Share this information with your family, friends, and coworkers. Help educate those around you about the importance of regular self-exams and screenings. Oral cancer is not a new phenomenon, but with advancing technologies and the ability to rapidly share information, we can have a new approach. It is possible for fatalities to be avoided! As reported by the AAOMS, the death rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. This means our voice can carry the power to make a difference in the world of oral cancers.
April 10-16th is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Week (OHANCAW).
A message from President Louis K. Rafetto, DMD, mentions that the AAOMS is joining a number of dental organizations in support of the Oral Cancer Foundation’s 17th annual observance this April. This designated week will encourage practitioners, patients and other interested individuals (like YOU) to promote head and neck cancer awareness through the use of public service announcements, news releases, talks at middle and high schools, walk-a-thons, and other community-based activities.