April, Oral Cancer Awareness Month, will be here before we know it. As dental professionals, it’s our duty to educate patients about oral cancer and perform annual screenings. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, “This is the fifth year in a row in which there has been an increase in the rate of occurrence of oral cancers.” There are some factors that contribute to these scary statistics, including tobacco and alcohol use and exposure to the HPV-16 virus (human papilloma virus version 16), which can be reduced by educating the community about their effects on oral and overall body health.
So – How Can You Help?
There are a few options. As dental professionals, the Oral Cancer Foundation is asking you to host a free screening event at your practice for at least 3 hours any day throughout the month of April. The Foundation will provide you with the materials needed to host the event, and assist in promoting the event to your local community. Some of the materials offered by the Oral Cancer Foundation include patient education brochures, buttons for the staff, official oral cancer awareness wristbands for the staff, and items for download, such as a press release, screening release form, referral forms and a poster for promotional use. Hosting a free screening event not only benefits the community, but could possibly drive new patients to your dental practice.
You might also want to consider becoming a member of the Oral Cancer Foundation. Becoming an official member of the Oral Cancer Foundation means the Foundation will provide a membership plaque for you to hang in your office, as well as more patient education brochures, a pin for your lapel and a copy of “Oral Cancer: The Dentist’s Role in Diagnosis, Management, Rehabilitation and Prevention” by Robert A. Ord.
Another simple effort that goes a long way, the Oral Cancer Foundation urges dental professionals to use social media to help raise awareness. If you have a blog, Facebook page, website, etc., post oral cancer facts or links to the Oral Cancer Foundation website. Also, don’t forget to join The Oral Cancer Foundation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
Then of course, if you are able to do so, donate to the Oral Cancer Foundation. As they say, every little bit helps!
Does your dental practice do anything special for Oral Cancer Awareness Month? If so, make sure to let us know in the comments section below!