Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software
This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are used for visitor analysis, others are essential to making our site function properly and improve the user experience. By using this site, you consent to the placement of these cookies. Click Accept to consent and dismiss this message or Deny to leave this website. Read our Privacy Statement for more.
Store   |   Nursing Careers   |   Search   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join/Renew
Press Releases : 2017 Press Releases

Oral Cancer Awareness Month: Oral Cancer Accounts for Nearly 10,000 Deaths per Year in the U.S.

Thursday, April 13, 2017  
Share |

For Oral Cancer Awareness Month, Nursing for Women’s Health (NWH), a journal of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), recently published an article highlighting the detrimental effects poor oral health can have on a woman’s health across the span of a lifetime including the risk of developing oral cancer. Julia Lange Kessler, DNP, CM, FACNM, the author of this article, describes how nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse-midwives can incorporate oral cavity examination into their care, with specific instructions, to help prevent oral cancer and other oral health related problems. This article was supported through a corporate support agreement with Crest®.


Oral cancer is the sixth most common cancer globally, and the large majority of oral cancers are in an advanced stage at the time of detection, leading to approximately 10,000 deaths per year in the United States.


A former U.S. Surgeon General, David Satcher once described dental and oral diseases, such as oral cancer, a “silent epidemic.” The danger of oral cancer is that early growth can be painless and unnoticed by women, thus increasing the risk of development of secondary primary tumors.


What should nurses look for when determining if a patient is at risk of developing oral cancer? Signs of oral cancer are white lesions in a person’s mouth.  If a nurse sees any white lesions in their patient’s mouth, it warrants a visit to a dental professional or ear, nose, and throat specialist to rule out cancer. High-risk areas for oral cancer include the hard and soft palate of the mouth. The tongue is also an area that is common for the development of precancer or cancer and is often missed during an oral examination


What can nurses and other health care providers do to fight this silent epidemic? Provide oral health examinations. Oral examinations are not painful or time consuming. Performing an oral health examination takes approximately 2 minutes and can be easily incorporated into the physical examination.  It’s an examination of the head, ears, eyes, nose, and throat, commonly referred to as HEENT.   The examination is conducted to determine the health status of the teeth and gums and to note any precancerous or cancerous lesions


Oral exams can also determine patients risk for:

     Periodontal (Gum) Disease




     Angular cheilitis

     Nonhealing lesions that could indicate skin cancer

The mouth is the gateway to the human body and by recommending patients receive regular oral examinations, oral cancer, and other oral health problems, need not happen.



For media interviews, contact:

Mary Elizabeth Elkordy for AWHONN

(202) 261-2447


About Nursing for Women's Health

Nursing for Women's Health is a bimonthly refereed clinical practice journal of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. The journal circulates to more than 25,000 nurses who care for women and newborns and is available online at



Since 1969, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has been the foremost authority promoting the health of women and newborns and strengthening the nursing profession through the delivery of superior advocacy, research, education, and other professional and clinical resources. AWHONN represents the interests of 350,000 registered nurses working in women's health, obstetric, and neonatal nursing across the United States. Learn more about AWHONN at



As a nurse you have the ability to make a difference in your patients’ lives. AWHONN membership provides you with the resources, tools and opportunities to provide the best care to your patients. JOIN NOW
Purchase our high-quality clinical content through books, live courses, online education, webinars and our groundbreaking line of evidence-based guidelines. PURCHASE NOW
Online Learning Center
The definitive resource for interactive, engaging CNE education through our Postpartum Hemorrhage, Maternal Fetal Triage and POEP online courses, webinars, award-winning journals and much more. ACCESS NOW


Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

AWHONN is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider #CEP580. Accredited status does not imply endorsement by AWHONN or the American Nurses Credentialing Center of any commercial products displayed or discussed in conjunction with educational activities.

Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal