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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Dental Hygiene students team up for Oral Cancer Walk

January 12, 2016

Dental Hygiene Oral Cancer WalkOral cancer, or cancer of the mouth, is not as common or well known as many other cancers of the body. Statistics show that 10.5 adults per 100,000 develop oral cancer each year versus 484.8 adults per 100,000 that will develop other forms of cancer.

To help bring awareness to this lesser known disease, Dental Hygiene (DH) students on the SJVC Ontario campus felt it was so important to participate in the Oral Cancer Foundation’s Fundraiser 5k Walk/Run.

“In our DH program we are taught how to identify oral cancer,” says SJVC Dental Hygiene student Sara Sater. “During intra and extra oral exams we look in different parts of the mouth for beginning signs of oral cancer. We can’t tell a patient or make a diagnosis if we see something, but we will tell a doctor who will take it from there.”

The fundraising event was held at Fountain Valley’s Square Mile Park on Oct. 10th and attracted over 200 spectators and participants. Attendees supported teams and enjoyed visiting food vendors and dental services booths, where they could receive free oral cancer screenings.

Important information about oral cancer symptoms and signs includes: persistent mouth sore or pain, a lump or thickening cheek, difficulty swallowing or chewing, numbness in tongue, or a white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth.

Prolonged symptoms indicate a need for testing, as early diagnosis helps ensure that treatment is as effective as possible.

“Volunteering is a passion of mine,” says Sara. “I feel like it’s important to share knowledge with people, especially about oral cancer, because not a lot of people know about it.”

Sara appreciated hearing testimonies from oral cancer survivors that day.  “One of the speakers told about his history, how he found out, what he went through, his loss of speech and struggle to regain it,” says Sara. “It was a very humbling experience.”

Sara left with an even greater appreciation for the Dental Hygiene career she has chosen. “I love Dental Hygiene and wouldn’t have chosen anything else,” she says. “The best thing about the program is the camaraderie among peers and working with patients here.”

San Joaquin Valley College programs encourage all students to participate in their chosen industries’ activities and provide much needed community support in their areas of interest.

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