UofL dental school to offer free oral cancer screenings at the KY State Fair


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For the 19th consecutive year, the University of Louisville School of Dentistry will offer free oral cancer screenings in partnership with the Kentucky Cancer Program and Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield at the Kentucky State Fair. A UofL dental student started the project in 1992, and it remains an important community service through student and faculty participation.

    Dentists and primary care doctors can often detect oral cancers at an early stage through regular check-ups. Cancer can affect the lips, tongue, mouth and throat. Factors like the type of oral lesion, location and differential diagnosis will dictate the treatment regimen which may include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

    Kentucky has an incidence of oral cancer that is greater than the national average, and an oral cancer screening is recommended every three years for people over age 20 and annually for those over age 40. Oral cancers represent 3 percent of all undiagnosed malignancies in the United States.

    According to the American Cancer Society, symptoms of oral cancer can include a sore in the mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal; a lump or thickening in the cheek; a white or red patch on the soft tissues of the mouth; a sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat; difficulties chewing, swallowing or moving the jaw.

    Under the direction of Lee Mayer, DMD, associate professor and director of community dental health at the UofL School of Dentistry, a recent graduate of the master’s in oral biology program, Anahita Alvanpour, MD, conducted a data analysis on the state fair oral cancer screenings from 1992 to 2010. The data concluded that of the 2,634 screened, about 9 percent or 237 people were found to have some type of abnormality. About 1.7 percent or almost 45 people had precancerous or dysplastic oral lesions.

    “Smoking, smokeless tobacco use, and regular alcohol use are oral cancer risk factors,” Mayer said. “The study determined the Kentucky State Fair screening program adequately recruited individuals with these risk factors, which are at or above national averages in Kentucky.”

    The dental school will perform the oral cancer screenings in the Healthy Horizons section of the South Wing exhibit hall 4:30pm – 7:30pm August 20, 21, 23, 24, 26 and 27.

    More about the screenings offered by UofL and other health care entities is available on the Kentucky State Fair Healthy Horizons website.< /p>

    For more information on the UofL School of Dentistry’s effort, contact Dr. Lee Mayer at lee.mayer@louisville.edu or 502-852-1209. To find out more about the Kentucky Cancer Program, contact Connie Sorrell at connie.sorrell@louisville.edu or 502-852-6318.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.