Bringing Together Clinical Topics on Oral Cancer


Dr. Eric Stoopler (left), Associate Professor of Oral Medicine, and Dr. Thomas Sollecito (right), Professor and Chair of Oral Medicine, served as editors of the January issue of Dental Clinics of North America, which focused on oral cancer.

Philadelphia — The National Cancer Institute estimated that in 2017 there were 49,670 new cases of oral and oropharyngeal cancer and approximately 9,700 deaths from the disease. With dental professionals on the frontlines for identifying potentially malignant and/or malignant lesions in the mouth, Penn Dental Medicine’s Dr. Thomas Sollecito, Professor and Chair of Oral Medicine, and Dr. Eric Stoopler, Associate Professor of Oral Medicine, helped to update oral health care providers with clinically relevant information on the disease as editors of the January 2018 edition of Dental Clinics of North America, titled Oral Cancer.

“Early detection of oral cancer is of critical importance as risk of metastatic disease increases and survival rates decrease with delayed diagnosis,” says Dr. Stoopler. “Symptoms are often absent in the early stages of disease, which contributes to the difficulty of diagnosing this condition.”

“A conventional visual and tactile examination of the oral cavity and associated structures of the head and neck must be conducted for every patient and should be expected by patients,” adds Dr. Sollecito. “Oral lesions exhibiting clinical signs of frank malignancy or those clinically suspicious for potential malignancy should undergo biopsy, and if oral cancer is diagnosed, prompt referral to the appropriate dental and medical specialists should occur for comprehensive patient evaluation and management.”

The topics covered in the issue range from evaluation and diagnostic techniques, including the role of genetics and precision medicine, to therapies and treatment planning/management of patients with oral cancer. The 21 contributing authors, selected for their expertise across disciplines, included researchers, educators, and clinicians from universities throughout North America.

Among those contributors from the Penn Dental Medicine faculty are Dr. Sunday Akintoye, Associate Professor, Department of Oral Medicine, on “Dental Management of Patients Who Have Undergone Oral Cancer Therapy”; Dr. Faizan Alawi, Associate Professor of Pathology, and Dr. Takako Tanaka, Clinical Professor of Oral Medicine, Department of Oral Medicine, on “Human Papillomavirus and Oropharyngeal Cancer”; and Dr. Mel Mupparapu, Professor of Oral Medicine, and Dr. Rabie Shanti, Assistant Professor Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery/Pharmacology, on “Evaluation and Staging of Oral Cancer.” Dr. Shanti also contributed an article with Dr. Bert O’Malley, Gabriel Tucker Professor and Chair, Department of Otorhinolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery at Penn Medicine, on “Surgical Management of Oral Cancer.” Other contributors from Penn Medicine include Dr. Lee Hartner, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, and Dr. Alexander Lin, Department of Radiation Oncology.

“In developing the content for this publication, our hope is that the information shared will help strengthen fundamental knowledge and clinical expertise as it relates to oral cancer with the goals of enhancing detection, optimizing management, and improving outcomes of patients with this condition,” says Dr. Stoopler.