Columbia University School Of Dental And Oral Surgery Offers Free Screenings To Promote Prevention And Early Detection Of Oral Cancer

October 16, 2000

80 Percent of Oral Cancer Deaths Can Be Prevented With Early Screening & Detection

NEW YORK, NY – OCT. 16, 2000 – Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery (SDOS) is one of 16 metropolitan-area healthcare institutions and professional societies that have joined together as the Consortium for Prevention and Early Detection of Oral Cancer to educate the public about risk factors for oral cancer, a disease that claims the lives of one person per hour. To raise public awareness of this unfamiliar cancer, SDOS will conduct free oral cancer screenings on October 25 and 26. Participants will receive a comprehensive oral examination. In addition, all screening participants will learn how to identify oral cancer risk factors and symptoms, as well as how to access low-cost oral care within their communities. If a participant is found to have a suspicious-looking lesion, the examining dentist will use a new, painless brush biopsy system to determine if any potentially cancerous cells are present and/or refer the patient to the appropriate specialist for additional diagnostic work. New York/New Jersey area residents can find a complete list of participating institutions by calling 1-877-263-3401 or visiting www.oral-cancer.org. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, early detection is key to increasing the survival rate for oral cancer. Early detection plays a significant role in patients’ success in fighting the disease. Survival rates are as high as 81 percent with early detection, in contrast with a survival rate of 17 percent or less with late intervention. However, only 15 percent of the population report ever having an oral cancer examination and a mere 7 percent report receiving annual screenings. “A considerable number of Americans visit their dermatologists for melanoma screenings and their gynecologists for cervical cancer screenings,” said David J. Zegarelli, D.D.S., professor of dentistry (in pathology) at the School of Dental and Oral Surgery. “However, the number of patients who visit their dentists solely for an oral cancer screening is very low. It is essential that people understand that like many cancers, oral cancer is treatable and can be cured if detected early.”

Oral Cancer Oral cancer affects more people worldwide each year than melanoma, cervical cancer, or Hodgkin’s disease. Unlike other, more familiar cancers, the mortality rate for oral cancer has not improved in the past 40 years, killing approximately one half of patients diagnosed with this form of cancer. The early stage of oral cancer generally causes no pain or discomfort and may be difficult to diagnose visually. These early lesions may appear as subtle alterations in the color of the lining tissue of the mouth and may look similar to other, non-cancerous oral lesions. In the U.S., the principal risk factors for this disease are the use of tobacco products, particularly cigarette smoking, and the excessive consumption of alcohol.

Consortium The Consortium for Prevention and Early Detection of Oral Cancer includes 16 sites from dental schools and hospitals in the metro New York/New Jersey area. The goal of the consortium is to raise awareness about oral cancer and the importance of prevention and early detection. Member institutions of the consortium and their participating screening sites are New York University College of Dentistry, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-New Jersey Dental School, Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (Cumberland Diagnostic and Treatment Center, East New York Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Elmhurst Hospital Center, and Morrisania Diagnostic and Treatment Center), the New York County Dental Society, St. Joseph’s Hospital Medical Center, the New Jersey Dental Association, Atlantic Health Systems (Morristown Memorial Hospital, Mountainside Hospital, and Overlook Hospital), the Essex County Health Department Dental Service, and the Department of Health and Senior Services of New Jersey. ABC 7 is providing promotional assistance to encourage metro New York/New Jersey residents to visit their dentists for oral cancer screenings.

Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery Since its inception in 1852 and its incorporation into Columbia University in 1917, the School of Dental and Oral Surgery (SDOS) has vigorously pursued its commitment to education, patient care, and research. Recognizing the value to the public and the dental specialties, SDOS established the first formal specialty education program in orthodontics in the 1920s. SDOS went on to establish programs in periodontics, endodontics, oral/maxillofacial surgery, prosthodontics, pediatric dentistry and advanced programs. SDOS provides general dentistry, oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and other clinic services to many members of the community through its Faculty Practice, Postgraduate and Specialty Practice, and Undergraduate Clinic. SDOS encourages and supports all forms of academic research efforts that have direct impact on improving oral health by fostering faculty and student participation in research and training students in current research methodologies.

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Dental Medicine, Elmhurst Hospital Center, Oral Cancer Oral, SDOS