Why we ran for oral cancer

  • Published
  • By Major Aaron Krance
  • 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Dental Flight
On May 18, 2012, McConnell's Preventive Dentistry Element kicked off the "Kickin' Butts and Takin' Names Oral Cancer 5K Fun Run and Walk."

McConnell has the highest tobacco use in Air Mobility Command, so we were excited about using this opportunity to educate a very susceptible population.

Registration fees of approximately $700 from more than 115 participants were donated to the Oral Cancer Foundation.

The Oral Cancer Foundation is a nonprofit group that provides education, therapeutic services, and research and advocacy programs to many that suffer from oral cancer to include veterans.

The Department of Veteran Affairs did research and concluded that, based on available statistics, veterans are especially susceptible to oral cancer. The VA diagnosed 1,700 cases in the year 2006 - about five percent of cases in the United States.

As the officer in charge of the Preventive Dentistry, I would like to reiterate a few statistics regarding oral cancer for those who weren't at the run.
  • Oral cancer affects nearly 40,000 people each year in the U.S., 480,000 worldwide.
  • It is three times more common in men than in women, but only because men generally smoke and drink more than women.
  • Smoking and drinking hard alcohol, (over 80 proof,) are the two main risk factors for getting oral cancer.
  • Put them together and they dramatically increase the risk.
Caucasian males over 65 are at the highest risk overall, but the greatest number of new cases is seen in African American males in middle age.

If oral cancer is detected early, the five year survival rate is 80 to 90 percent. That's pretty good when we're talking about the "big C." Unfortunately, the true 5 year survival rate for oral cancer is only 45 percent due to the fact that most oral cancer is not detected until it's in late stage and has spread.

These statistics are why you will receive a thorough oral cancer screening every time you come to the McConnell Dental clinic for an annual checkup.

Thanks to all those who participated in the oral cancer awareness run, and I'll see you around the dental clinic.

Editor's Note: Staff Sgt. Tiffany Grant contributed to this commentary