Oral Cancer Answers, a production of the Oral Cancer Foundation, is where we discuss disease related issues of interest to patients, survivors, advocates, and medical and dental professionals. Our guests are drawn from a large body of knowledgeable OCF collaborators and thought leaders on oral cancer, from fields and backgrounds as diverse as research, education, medical and dental professionals, and survivors. If you would like us to consider a particular subject matter in future podcasts, drop us a note at info@oralcancerfoundation.org


We all hope that we never lose a loved one to oral cancer, but too often it happens. Sometimes there are a series of events that conspire to delay discovery and diagnosis, allowing the cancer to become much more invasive and difficult to cure. Even if that is possible, the morbidity associated with what are by any definition difficult treatments can be substantial. In this podcast we diverge from our science based informational format to speak with someone who has suffered that loss, oral cancer activist Rebecca Bencal who lost her twin sister Venessa to the disease. While this conversation goes through some of the issues related to treatments, there is a bigger take away in it. Learn what fueled her passion to speak about oral cancer, and why early discovery is so important. Understand why in today’s environment, when oral cancer screening is still not a national policy, or a part of examinations in every dental office, being your own advocate, being informed about risk factors and early signs and symptoms is paramount. This is a story of loss. It is also a conversation about what we can do to make this situation better in America.

Dr. Fakhry is a professor of Otolaryngology, head and neck surgeon, and a multi peer-reviewed published researcher in numerous high profile cancer journals, on staff at Johns Hopkins, and joins us to talk about the HPV virus and oropharyngeal cancer. This is not a typical academic/science discussion. The OCF staff asked the Dr. to specifically address questions that we get over our phone lines from both the public and patients as a matter of routine. The discussion ranges from subjects as diverse as unknown primary cancers, and the evolution of that term over the last decade, to HPV vaccine questions, and includes bits on transfer mechanisms – debunking some methods misunderstood by many. The numbers of Americans infected and currently oral positive for HPV, how we know that number, and the relative risk of that infection cascading into a malignancy is another topic. What are the risks for a couple in which one partner is an HPV+ oral cancer patient? Get interesting answers here.

Topics discussed; What is oral medicine? Osteoradionecrosis from definition to causes and treatments. Which lesions are worthy of refferal and biopsy; defining the dangerous from the less worrisome oral abnormalities. The many step referral process in dentistry – from RDH to oral pathologist, defining the best path for your patients and your practice.