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UMSOD Volunteers Raise Awareness of Oral Cancer

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Written by Adam Zewe

This year, oral and pharyngeal cancer will claim the lives of more than 8,000 people in the United States, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. In an effort to decrease the prevalence of this deadly disease, a team of University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) students, residents and faculty members volunteered to provide screenings and raise awareness of oral cancer.

Twenty-six volunteers screened 60 patients during the University of Maryland, College Park's annual Maryland Day celebration on April 26. Students, residents, and faculty members collaborated to offer screenings in the UMSOD College Park Dental Clinic, which is located on campus in the Student Health Center. An oral cancer screening, which involves a thorough extra-oral and intra-oral exam, takes a matter of minutes, but could save a patient's life, says Max Emmerling, DDS '15, president of the Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Interest Society. "The earlier you catch oral cancer, the better chance you have of treating it," he states.

Despite the fact that more than 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, many patients are not aware of the disease. By volunteering at Maryland Day, students were able to emphasize the importance of oral cancer screenings, and explain to patients that drinking alcohol and smoking can raise a person's risk for developing oral cancer, remarks Chelsea Mitchell, DDS '15. "It's important to remind people that dentistry is about more than just teeth," she says.

The event was also an important educational experience for the students. "I hope that the students felt a sense of 'giving back' to the community by providing this service, learned to perform a good oral cancer exam, and had fun working in a team environment," remarks Robert Ord, DDS, MD, chair of the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.

Click here to see a photo gallery from the event.


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  • Posting Date: 05/05/2014
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