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May 04, 2012

Students Help Raise Awareness, Funds for Oral Cancer

Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine students and faculty helped to raise awareness of oral cancer prevention and funds for the Oral Cancer Foundation through the 4th Annual Philly Oral Cancer Walk and 5K Run. This April 29 event, which also included free oral cancer screenings conducted by Penn Dental Medicine students and faculty, was organized by the student-run Oral Cancer Society. This year’s walk and run drew 243 participants – the largest and most successful turn-out to date. The event raised nearly $13,000 for oral cancer awareness and the Oral Cancer Foundation

One of the key goals of the event is to draw public awareness to the importance of early detection and to the risk factors for oral cancer. “Understanding causative factors and communicating those to the community is one of the first steps in preventing oral cancer. Examination and identification of pre-cancerous lesions early enough for life-saving treatment is critical”, says Penn Dental Medicine student Ross Uhrich (D’14), who co-chaired the event with Prince Dhillon (D’13).

“The majority of oral malignancies are squamous cell carcinomas which arise from the mucosa of the oral cavity. Unfortunately, by the time many oral cancers are diagnosed, they are already in advanced stages”, adds Dhillon.

“Training our dentists to perform a thorough head and neck examination can lead to early detection of cancer and will help patients receive early and often less aggressive treatments,” says Dr. Thomas Sollecito, Chair and Professor of Oral Medicine at Penn Dental Medicine, who was one of the faculty advisors for the event. “In addition, creating community awareness that tobacco use, excessive alcohol intake, immunosuppression and certain human papilloma viruses (HPV) are associated with an increased risk for oral cancer risk, can help prevent this disease.”

View photos from the event on the School’s Facebook page.

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University of Pennsylvania
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