April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF) is offering dental practices resources to promote and conduct screenings, which may save a life. According to the OCF, about 53,000 people will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in the United States this year. Also, the OCF reports, one person will die of oral cancer every hour of every day.
Smoking and alcohol use remain major risk factors, but the OCF says that the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients comprises young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is transmitted sexually. The OCF, then, aims to save lives by raising awareness of the disease and its causes and to promote screening efforts that may catch the disease before it has progressed too far.
The OCF encourages dental practices to offer free screenings throughout the month where interested patients can schedule an appointment. The organization suggests scheduling these screenings in between currently scheduled patients or after hours to maximize the number of potential screenings and optimize use of the staff’s time. Or, practices may block out a specific time dedicated entirely to screenings, with walk-in patients welcome as well.
Additionally, the OCF encourages dental practices to organize screenings outside of their offices. It notes that weekends are the best for turnout and walk-up traffic. Practices may ask partners to provide space where screenings may be held. These partners may include community partners like town halls or street fairs as well as businesses such as pharmacies, supermarkets, and department stores.
These partners may collaborate on promotional efforts to bring people to these screenings too. The OCF offers materials such as downloadable patient releases, referral forms, brochures about oral cancer, and buttons and wristbands for staff. The OCF will send packets of these materials to participating practices at no cost, along with marketing guidelines. For more information, contact Natalie Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org.