Global Health Nexus, Winter 2003

Oral Cancer Consortium’s Free Screening Expand to Pennsylvania

On November 7, the Oral Cancer Consortium conducted its fourth annual free oral cancer screening program at more than 30 sites throughout New York, New Jersey, and, for the first time, Pennsylvania, where two new sites, the Village Senior Center at the University of Pittsburgh and the Lawrenceville Senior Center, also participated. As in previous years, a vital factor in the program’s success was the vigorous campaign of televised public service announcements sponsored by ABC 7.

“What started as a local and regional effort with five founding partners,” said Dean Alfano, “now includes more than 30 metropolitan-area health care institutions and professional societies from as far away as Pittsburgh. Hospitals and colleges in the Boston area have formed an oral cancer consortium and the University of Southern California School of Dentistry is also organizing a consortium which will complement the New York/New Jersey model. Last year the ADA sponsored a national oral cancer awareness campaign, and will probably sponsor a national, full-day oral cancer screening day at some point within the next several years.”

Overall, nearly 2,000 people were screened for oral cancer and more than 136 brush biopsies were performed on November 7. NYU Dentistry alone screened 301 patients and performed 15 brush biopsies. This year’s screening program was coordinated by Dr. A. Ross Kerr, Assistant Professor of Oral Medicine and Director of Special Patient Care and Hospital Dentistry. “When you think of the impact the Consortium and its spin-offs are having on professional practice and on oral cancer preventive education and diagnosis,” said Dr. Kerr, “it’s thrilling to realize that we are at the forefront of a movement that will help to save lives across our nation.”