Spring 2005 Table of Contents
Oral Cancer Consortium Think Tank Convenes at NYUCD

Ms. Saundra Thomas, VP, Community Affairs ABC 7; Dr. Ross Kerr; Mr. Cliff Love, Former Director of Community Affairs ABC 7.





More than 60 health professionals, oral cancer patients, members of support groups, and industry leaders from across the nation gathered at NYUCD in January to consider ways to increase the Oral Cancer Consortium's ability to raise public and professional awareness of the disease and thereby optimize prevention and early detection.

Conceived in New York and New Jersey in 1998 as a collaboration among regional dental schools, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, area hospitals, corporations, professional dental societies and local media, the Oral Cancer Consortium today includes 29 metropolitan-area healthcare institutions and professional societies and extends to Pennsylvania. Each year the Oral Cancer Consortium sponsors a free screening day at multiple sites throughout the tri-state area. Last year, in an effort to further extend its reach, the Oral Cancer Consortium moved its annual screening event from November to April to coincide with Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, an event sponsored annually by the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, which conducts free screenings throughout the southeastern U.S.

The think tank was initiated by Consortium Chairman Dr. Ross Kerr, Clinical Associate Professor of Oral Medicine and Director of Special Patient Care and Hospital Dentistry. Dr. Kerr wanted to expand the number of Consortium stakeholders, who would bring fresh perspectives to the Consortium's issues and challenges. "Our objectives," said Dr. Kerr, "were to identify and understand the problem of oropharyngeal cancer in the U.S., develop possible solutions for accessing the most 'at risk' populations, recognize and bridge the discrepancies in strengths and weaknesses of the various healthcare professions in terms of prevention and early detection, develop immediate plans for expanding awareness in 2005, and lay the foundation for a long and productive interprofessional relationship. I think that participants felt we made significant progress in all these areas."

Recommendations by participants included broadening the base of potential screeners; encouraging science writers and the general media to report stories designed to increase oral cancer literacy among the public, healthcare providers, academicians, and policymakers; promoting cross-disciplinary collaborative research; and developing a national directory of oral cancer resources.