Students Build Awareness, Support with Annual Oral Cancer Walk and 5K


Philadelphia — Early detection of oral cancer can make a world of difference in successful treatment and survival rates. Yet, for many people, the disease is not a familiar one – the Penn Dental Medicine Oral Cancer Walk and 5K continues its work to change that. Now in its 16 years, this student-run event is intended to raise awareness about the impact of oral cancer and the opportunities for early detection and treatment. On Sunday, May 4, 341 participants walked or ran a 5K at Penn Park to build community and raise funds for oral cancer awareness and research. The post-race festivities included free oral cancer screenings aboard the PennSmiles mobile dental clinic, as well as dental education, music, food, and refreshments.

Along with raising funds for the Penn Dental Medicine Oral Cancer Care and Research Fund, a major goal of the event is to increase public understanding of the disease and the importance of early detection. The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that close to 58,500 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year.

“Sixteen years ago, after a lecture on oral cancer, its impact, and the need for public awareness, a group of students came together and asked “what more can we do?” and the Oral Cancer Walk was launched,” says third-year student Lindsay Fisher, co-chair of this year’s event with fellow-classmate Simran Grewal. “The spirit and passion of those students lives on in the members of our organization year after year. Simran and I are honored to have contributed to this legacy throughout our time at Penn Dental Medicine.”

Proceeds from this year’s pre-race fundraising and the race itself totaled $6,900 and will go toward the Penn Dental Medicine Oral Cancer Care and Research Fund, as well as the newly established Oral Cancer Walk Travel Award. This award will be presented at the annual Penn Dental Medicine Research Day to a student that has shown a commitment to furthering the knowledge in the field of oral cancer and improving patient care and management.

“This award serves to recognize the same kind of dedication that contributed to the founding of the Oral Cancer Walk,” notes Grewal. “We want to thank everyone who continues to support the mission of the event. It truly would not be possible without the collaboration and mentorship of our faculty and administration.”

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