VCU plans free oral cancer screenings event

4/16/2014, 10:12 a.m.

The VCU School of Dentistry and its corporate affiliate, VCU Dental Care, will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings on Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 520 N. 12th St., Richmond.

April is National Oral Cancer Awareness Month. In addition to the free screenings, VCU also will host the fifth annual Oral Cancer Walk at 9 a.m. on April 19 at Byrd Park. All proceeds raised from the charity walk will be donated to the VCU Philips Institute for advancement in oral cancer research.

Oral cancer affects approximately 42,000 Americans each year and is responsible for 8,000 deaths annually. The Oral Cancer Foundation reports that the death rate for oral cancer is greater than that of a number of other cancers including cervical, testicular, thyroid and skin cancers. Higher death rates are associated with oral cancer because it is difficult to diagnose and is often discovered at a very late stage. The common causes of oral cancer are tobacco use, excessive consumption of alcohol and more recently, the human papillomavirus (HPV). In a significant number of cases, oral cancer may be caused even in absence of the above factors, likely due to a genetic predisposition.

Routine oral examinations by dental professionals can help detect cancer and pre-cancer stages in a timely fashion. Early detection remains the best method of prevention of oral cancer. Early detection can cure oral cancer and saves lives.

Those who are interested can call VCU Dental Care at (804) 628-0310 to schedule a screening. Walk-ins are also welcome.