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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2005
 

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Oral cancer campaign urges Detroiters to get checked

The Detroit Oral Cancer Prevention Project (DOCPP) has launched a citywide campaign to lower the oral cancer death rate in Detroit.

"Our best hope for decreasing the rate of oral cancer is to get Detroiters in for a screening," says project director Dr. Amid Ismail from the School of Dentistry. "If caught early, oral cancer has a 90 percent cure rate."
A billboard from the oral cancer screening campaign. (Courtesy the Detroit Oral Cancer Prevention Project)

The effects of later-stage oral cancer treatments, by contrast, can be devastating. Some patients require full or partial removal of the tongue, teeth, gums or oral tissues.

According to a recent study, 46 percent of all deaths from oral cancer in Michigan occur in the Detroit area.

In African-American men, Detroit reported an oral cancer rate of 31 cases per 100,000 people, which was the highest rate reported among all states.

The Detroit area, with one of the highest incidence and mortality rates of oral cancer in the state, had only 35 percent of its oral cancer cases detected at an early, or localized stage.

Michigan men had the sixth highest oral cancer incidence rate of all states in 2000, with oral cancer diagnosed in 17.8 men for every 100,000. Michigan's African American men had a rate of 26.2 per 100,000, the highest among African American men in all states. Oral cancer is more prevalent in African American men in Detroit than cancer of the esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, larynx, skin or bladder.

Among the risk factors of oral cancer are tobacco use, moderate or heavy alcohol use, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, lack of access to early screening and dental care, and poor oral hygiene. The DOCPP seeks to reduce the oral cancer death rate in Detroit by half in the next five years.

The campaign, titled "Get Checked Before It's Too Late," includes billboards, and radio and newspaper advertisements, all urging Detroiters to call toll-free (877) 7-CHECKED for an appointment for a free oral cancer screening.

"Bottom line, we want everyone to know that oral cancer is preventable. It's treatable, but it must be caught early," says Ismail, professor of cariology, restorative sciences and endodontics, and professor of epidemiology.

Screenings provided through the project are painless and free.

The DOCPP is funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health.

Additional support is provided by the School of Dentistry, the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry and the Delta Dental Fund of Michigan.

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