Delta Dental Foundation grant helping assess oral cancer screening procedures

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OKEMOS, MI – April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and to help raise awareness the Michigan Department of Delta Dental FoundationHealth and Human Services (MDHHS) Oral Health Unit is using a nearly $27,000 grant from the Delta Dental Foundation to assess screening procedures for oral cancer and determine knowledge of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) among oral health professionals.

Dr. Jeff Johnston, Chief Science Officer and Vice President at Delta Dental, represents the organization on the MDHHS advisory committee for this project.

“Although April is cancer awareness month, the need for early diagnosis and treatment is year round,” Johnston said. “Promotion of HPV awareness and vaccination will pay off in less people having to go through this terrible disease.”

The Oral Health Unit is using the funding to conduct a survey of 5,000 Michigan dental providers. Responses will help:

  • Assess screening procedures for oral cancer by oral health professionals.
  • Assess the knowledge of oral health professionals of oral cancer screening, HPV and HPV vaccine.
  • Determine if oral health professionals perform any follow up after identifying patients with suspected oral cancers.
  • Determine if oral health professionals are willing to discuss HPV, its connection to oral cancer and/or promote the HPV vaccine.

In addition, survey results may be used to develop interventions and pilots and share best practices among Michigan dental providers.

“The goal is to increase the number of Michigan residents screened for oral cancer and referred to specialists if needed and to increase the number of individuals vaccinated with the HPV vaccine,” said Nick Lyon, MDHHS director. “We appreciate Delta Dental’s support in researching this important issue. Oral cancer is the eighth most common cancer diagnosis in men, causing more than 8,000 deaths among men and women each year.”

Each year more than 30,000 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the United States, and it is estimated more than 50 percent of all oral cancers are associated with HPV lesions. HPV is a virus that causes infection on the skin or mucous membranes of various areas of the body, including the mouth.

For more information about oral health, visit

About Delta Dental Foundation The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and North Carolina. The Foundation is dedicated to improving the oral health of the public and to advancing dental science through education and research. For more information, visit

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