ADA and MD Anderson Team Up for Oral Cancer Prevention

Dentistry Today


The ADA and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will work together to improve patient outcomes through programs aimed at dental and medical professionals and the public to increase human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations and tobacco cessation for oral cancer prevention.

“ADA member dentists promise to put patients first, and as a profession we look for innovative ways to treat and prevent disease and promote wellness,” said ADA president Gary Roberts, DDS. “Together with MD Anderson, one of the most respected cancer centers in the world, we are excited to pioneer new programs to help our patients live healthy and disease-free lives.” 

Both organizations agree that increasing the percentage of children and young adults vaccinated for HPV is critical to improving their health and reducing the risk of several related cancers. Also, programs aimed at preventing children and young adults from starting to smoke while encouraging current smokers to quit are another key component of the collaboration.

“Tobacco use and HPV infection remain the leading causes of oral cancers,” said Marshall E. Hicks, MD, president ad interim, MD Anderson. “Through this collaboration, we have a significant opportunity to inform care providers and the public about the associated risks, and we can make a difference in the fight to end cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 50,000 cancers of the oral cavity and pharynx will be diagnosed this year in the United States, with rates in men twice as high as those in women. These cancers often are not diagnosed until their late stages, when treatment is less effective, with 5-year survival rates of about 40%. Yet patients whose cancer is detected in stage I and II see survival rates up to 90%.  

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of cancer in the United States, responsible for about one third of all cases. HPV infections are responsible for approximately 70% of all oropharyngeal cancers, about 9,000 annually, as well as most cervical, anal, and genital cancers. HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers are 4 times more common in men than women, with their incidence rate rising significantly in recent years.

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