ISSUE
               
Grants and Philanthropy
NIH Grant Awarded to NYUCD to Promote Oral Cancer Examinations in Puerto Rico


Dr. Walter Psoter




NYUCD has received a two-year, $430,000 grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the NIH, to investigate methods to encourage practicing dentists in Puerto Rico to routinely conduct oral cancer examinations. Puerto Rican males residing in Puerto Rico have one of the highest oral cancer rates in the Western Hemisphere.

The NYU research team will interview dentists in Puerto Rico to identify strategies for promoting greater incorporation of oral cancer examinations into routine clinical practice and to assess how best to implement these strategies, said the study's principal investigator, Dr. Walter Psoter, an assistant professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion.

Dr. Poster's study will gather data from focus groups and one-on-one interviews with practicing dentists, public health officials, and dental faculty at the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine. The interviews will seek to establish the likelihood of practicing dentists adopting promising new oral cancer diagnostic technologies; whether new licensing and continuing education requirements could be used to increase oral cancer examinations in clinical practice; and whether social forces, such as an advertising campaign to heighten the public's oral cancer awareness, could be harnessed as an incentive to motivate dentists to routinely conduct examinations. A subsequent study is planned to test the effectiveness of one or more of these strategies.

Dr. Psoter's study will address issues identified in an earlier study sponsored by the NYU Oral Cancer RAAHP (Research for Adolescent and Adult Health Promotion) Center, which compared rates of suspicious lesions diagnosed by pathology laboratories in New York City and in Puerto Rico, and found that while rates of oral cancer diagnosis were higher in Puerto Rico, biopsy rates of suspicious lesions were lower. In an article about the study published in the February 2009, issue of Cancer Detection and Prevention, the study's lead investigator, Dr. Douglas Morse, associate professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, wrote that Puerto Rico residents with intraoral lesions suspicious for oral cancer and pre-cancer are most likely to be biopsied only after developing an invasive oral cancer.

Dr. Psoter's co-investigators include Dr. Morse, Dr. Augusto Elias, assistant dean for research at the University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry, and Dr. Carmen Buxo, an epidemiologist at the University of Puerto Rico School of Dental Medicine.

Also collaborating on the study are Dr. Michael C. Alfano, executive vice president of NYU and former dean of NYUCD; Dr. Ross Kerr, clinical associate professor of oral and maxillofacial pathology, radiology, and medicine; Dr. Ralph Katz, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion; Dr. Mary Northridge, assistant professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion; Dr. Fredrick More, professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion; Dr. David Glotzer, clinical professor of cariology and comprehensive care; Dr. Melba Sanchez, former associate dean for research at the University of Puerto Rico School of Public Health; and Dr. Carmen Velez, an epidemiologist at the University of Puerto Rico School of Public Health; Dr. Scott Tomar, an epidemiologist in the Departments of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Florida College of Dentistry; Dr. Maria L. Aguilar, a prosthodontist in the Department of Restorative Sciences at the University of Florida College of Dentistry; and Dr. Rosalia Rey, a restorative dentist in the Department of Restorative Sciences at the University of Florida College of Dentistry.