BY GABE HERMAN | NYU’s College of Dentistry will host its annual NYU Oral Cancer Walk on Sunday, Oct. 6, which follows a three-mile path through Kips Bay and the East Village.
The walk supports the NYU Oral Cancer Center and the university’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research, both at 421 First Ave., at East 25th St.
This will be the fourth year that the walk is benefitting the NYU Oral Cancer Center. Previously, NYU’s College of Dentistry held the walk in partnership with the Oral Cancer Foundation.
Over 600 people registered for last year’s walk, including students, faculty, alumni, and oral cancer survivors and their families. Over $30,000 was raised for oral cancer research.
Along with the walk, the College of Dentistry will offer free oral cancer and health screenings to the public.
Oral cancer kills over 8,000 people in America every year. While it is a rare cancer, according to Dr. Brian Schmidt, director of the NYU Oral Cancer Center, its impact can be severe if not treated at an early stage.
“Unfortunately it often gets detected late,” said Dr. Schmidt. “[Oral cancer] has such an impact on quality of life.” He noted that it can be a difficult cancer to deal with, and the only treatment is surgical, often involving removal of teeth and the tongue.
The primary symptom of oral cancer is pain and an ulcer in the mouth. Even if a person doesn’t drink alcohol or smoke tobacco, which are the two biggest risk factors for the disease, a painful ulcer should still be checked out immediately by a dentist, Dr. Schmidt said.
Oral cancer rates are rising among younger people, Dr. Schmidt said, though for reasons that are unclear.
In terms of raising awareness about oral cancer, “there’s still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Dr. Schmidt participates in the walk every year. He also gives a short talk and introduces a video featuring patients that have survived the disease.
“It’s a fantastic experience because you have a lot of students and faculty who participate,” said Dr. Schmidt of the event, “and because dental students are the ones picking up the cause, and that’s very exciting.”