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Outreach Project Provides Oral Cancer Screenings

Written by Adam Zewe

oral cancer screenings

Dental students, residents and faculty members spent a sunny Saturday afternoon raising awareness of oral cancer among members of the local community. They provided oral cancer screenings as part of the Maryland Day festivities held at the University of Maryland, College Park, on April 27.

About 20 volunteers provided oral cancer screenings for more than 100 patients during the event. In addition to the physical exam, the students, residents and faculty members educated patients about the risk factors for oral cancer, which include drinking and smoking.

Knowing the risk factors is important for younger patients, especially since more people under age 40 are being diagnosed with oral cancer, remarks Assistant Professor Donita Dyalram, DDS, MD. Surgeons and scientists believe that human papillomavirus (HPV) may be the leading cause. By educating patients about oral cancer, the student volunteers also learn valuable lessons. "The students learn how to interact with patients, how to do a good oral cancer exam and, most importantly, they realize what a good public service they can offer the community," she says.

Michelle Koilpillai, DDS '13, enjoyed the opportunity to work with patients and help them understand the risk factors of oral cancer. "It was nice to be able to share information patients can use to improve their oral health. To dental students, it may seem like common knowledge, but it isnýt common knowledge for our patients," she states.

For Geoffrey Clive, DDS '16, the outreach project gave him a chance to hone his skills, since he was able to perform a dozen oral cancer screenings back to back. Through the screenings, Clive identified two patients who did not know they were suffering from tonsillitis. "This was an important outreach project because it provides an opportunity to raise awareness and remind patients to see their dentists regularly and talk about the risk factors for oral cancer," he states.

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