ROSEBURG, Oregon – The Dental Assisting program at Umpqua Community College (UCC) is teaming up with local dentist Dr. Alexis Atchinson to offer free oral cancer screenings on Friday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost-free event, which is open to the public, will take place at the state-of-the-art dental facility in the Bonnie J. Ford Health, Nursing and Science Center.
This is the second time this event has been held as part of Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Last year, a variety of patients were seen who ranged in age from 19 to 75. Oral cancer was detected in one person out of the many screened. For UCC’s Dental Assisting Program Chair Tamara Loosli, that one screening was worth the entire event.
“To go through this screening, it literally takes five minutes in a chair,” Loosli said. “So if you think about it, five minutes can potentially save your life.”
Experts say the death rate from oral cancer is high because it’s typically found late in its development. Along with being linked to tobacco users, the cancer has also been linked to the human papilloma virus known as HPV—a common, sexually transmitted virus that infects about 40 million Americans.
“Four percent of all cancers are oral,” Dr. Atchinson said. “Not only is there a rise in HPV rates among 18 to 25 year olds, Douglas County has a very high smoker rate compared to the state and national averages. In 2016, the national average was 17%. Douglas County’s average: 25 to 26%.”
UCC’s dental assisting students and staff will be facilitating the event while Dr. Atchinson performs the screenings. No appointments are necessary. The entire process, minus any waiting time, should take no longer than 10 minutes.
About Umpqua Community College
Nestled in the beautiful North Umpqua River Valley, Umpqua Community College is the regional center for higher education in Douglas County, Oregon. UCC provides high quality college degree programs, workforce development, and community learning opportunities.
Associate Professor, Dental Assisting