The Oral Cancer Foundation’s core mission is to reduce the incidence of oral and oropharyngeal cancers in the US population, and support those who are currently or have been, impacted by the disease. We do so through the following mechanisms.
We provide the most current and vetted scientific information about the disease in a central location, the OCF web site which has hundreds of pages of regularly reviewed pages on the disease, treatments, research, and much more. This information can be accessed free of charge by anyone, and our site is regularly used by patients, students, doctors, researchers, and the general public interested in the disease. An informed public is able to avoid risk factors for disease development, and recognize early signs and symptoms that will facilitate early diagnosis and treatment.
The foundation is the home of the world’s largest patient support group for this disease. Located online, it currently has about 11,000 registered members (2016). Carefully monitored for content and appropriateness of the information exchanged, it is an environment which is free to those who use it, and also allows them to interact with each other and the professionals that monitor it in an anonymous manner. Besides direct interaction, there are over 250k threads of conversation there that can be searched for relevant answers to the problems our patients have experienced.
OCF is a direct funder of research efforts related to oral and oropharyngeal cancers in the US. We specifically underwrite and co-contribute with the NCI and others to work that has implications in early discovery. Early discovery of this cancer yields lower treatment related morbidity, and better long-term outcomes for patients. Typical sciences funded have been, salivary diagnostics and tissue auto fluorescence as early screening tools, as well as a great deal of work in understanding the HPV virus which is driving the rapid acceleration in incidence of oropharyngeal cancers today. We are also now funders of immunotherapeutic treatment research, which is changing the core means by which we think of fighting all cancers.
We are an advocate for oral cancer related issues in many arenas, including federal agencies such as the NIH/National Cancer Institute, the CDC and the FDA. We have worked directly with political figures in the Senate to advance the control of tobacco via the FDA, a primary cause of our disease. We have argued and advanced the vaccination issue with the CDC to allow young males to be vaccinated with the HPV vaccine, which was previously only available to young females, protecting them from future oropharyngeal cancers caused by this virus. We have engaged the dental and dental hygiene communities to become involved in providing an annual opportunistic oral cancer screening as part of their routine practice, and have the support and strategic partnership of every major dental professional organization to accomplishing this.
Every one of these areas of endeavor works backwards to our core mission of reducing incidence and supporting patients.