Many of the world’s foremost experts on oral cancer gathered at the inaugural Global Oral Cancer Forum, March 4 and March 5 at New York University’s Kimmel Center, to explore ways to reduce the disease’s worldwide impact.
Nearly 500,000 people are diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer around the world each year, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s Globocan 2000 database and the World Health Organization’s Mortality database.
Of that number, one-third to one-half lose their lives each year, and many more suffer from the complications of treatment. And despite the accessibility of the oral cavity, more than two-thirds are diagnosed in advanced stages where the cancer has already spread to regional lymph nodes or beyond.
“Rarely have so many oral cancer stakeholders from around the globe been in the same room together, exchanging ideas and learning from one another in pursuit of a unifying goal: a world in which oral cancer is detected earlier and affects fewer lives,” said Dr. A. Ross Kerr, chair of the event’s organizing committee.
“Achieving this goal requires new partnerships, fresh perspectives, and a shared vision for increasing awareness and enhancing early detection and prevention, and the Global Oral Cancer Forum is the ideal place to start,” Kerr said.
Attendees included clinicians, scientists, epidemiologists, activists, public health experts, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and others working to understand how to reduce the global oral cancer burden.
Dr. Michael C. Alfano, executive vice president of New York University, served as the keynote speaker. Paired delegates from 8 regions of the world provided short presentations summarizing the oral cancer situation in their respective regions.
Also, panel discussions examined gaps and innovations in various domains across the oral cancer continuum, emphasizing early detection. A photo exhibit titles “Faces of Oral Cancer” by braschler/fischer demonstrated the impact of the disease.
A white paper based on the forum’s proceedings will outline a plan of action to enhance research, public awareness, and early detection and prevention. The forum was underwritten by an educational grant from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation.
“The Global Oral Cancer Forum will lay the groundwork for a concentrated effort to fight oral cancer on a global scale by facilitating the exchange of ideas and research between some of the finest minds in the medical and oral health communities, and the public and private sectors,” said Stanley M. Bergman, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Henry Schein Inc.
“Raising awareness and early detection and prevention efforts are keys to reducing the incidence and impact of oral cancer, a disease that serves as a stark reminder of the vital importance of good oral health to a person’s overall health. This forum exemplifies Henry Schein’s commitment to wellness and prevention in this regard. Henry Schein is proud to stand with our partners in this endeavor as we work to ‘help health happen’ together,” Begrman said.
“NYU and Henry Schein have been working together for many years to increase oral cancer awareness and enhance diagnosis, and it is particularly fulfilling to see such a large assemblage of talented individuals from around the world come together in like cause,” said Alfano.
“The diverse mix of attendees with research, public health, and communication skills, among many others, sets up the potential to create a ‘virtuous cycle’ whereby the public becomes more informed about oral cancer, which in turn will lead to more research support to improve our understanding, treatment, and diagnosis of this deadly disease,” said Alfano.