With our mouth we eat and drink what sustains us. With it, we communicate ideas and feelings to the world through speech or a simple smile. It allows us to taste the nuance of a fine wine, the sweetness of a freshly picked berry, or mustard covered hot dog at the ballpark. Love or passion is expressed by it when we kiss a loved one or child. When cancer affects our mouths, it does more than take away these everyday functions, it too often takes our lives. Through increased public and professional awareness, prevention through lifestyle changes, early detection initiatives, education, improved treatment modalities, and sponsorship of research, the Oral Cancer Foundation's mission is to contribute to the reduction of suffering, permanent physical damage and disfigurement, and death caused by this disease.
The foundation is an IRS registered non-profit 501(c) 3, public service charity designed for advocacy and service, active in both the public and medical/dental professional sectors. At the forefront of our agenda is an effort to raise awareness of this disease, and establish in the minds of the American public the need to undergo an annual oral cancer screening, combined with an outreach to the dental and medical communities to provide this service as a matter of routine practice. Oral cancer takes more lives than cancers we routinely hear about, such as cervical, Hodgkin's lymphoma, skin (malignant melanoma), testicular, and many others. In the efforts to reduce the death rate from cancers in the US, the most significant progress has been made through early detection. Cervical, skin, prostate, and others that lend themselves to simple, opportunistic screenings and exams have all had their death rates reduced through programs promoting early discovery. Early discovery and diagnosis, yields better long-term outcomes, and lower morbidity to those who undergo treatments. Oral cancer is not hidden within the body in some hard to find location requiring an invasive examination; the majority of the time it is literally in plain view, right under your nose, and can be seen with the naked eye or felt with the fingers. In many cases, its early, highly survivable stages are easily detected in a 3 to 5 minute painless visual and tactile examination. Often, particularly in the front of the mouth, even the precancerous lesions, which can progress into malignancy, can be seen with the naked eye. An annual oral examination conducted by members of the dental and medical communities will have a definite impact on reducing the death rate associated with oral cancer. It is our mission to bring this about. A full description of the foundation’s mission statement can be read here.