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April 2019: Oral Cancer Month

WHEREAS, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rank Michigan 37th in the United States for Oral Cavity and Pharyngeal Cancer incidence and Oral cancer is the 12th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Michigan; and,

WHEREAS, although oropharyngeal cancers are confined to the lips, tongue, soft and hard palate, gums, tonsils, and the back of the throat it can strike children as well as the elderly, and the American Cancer Society estimates 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer this year with over 10,800 people eventually dying from its causes; and,

WHEREAS, the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine was developed to prevent cervical and other cancers of the reproductive system, and observational studies by the CDC find that HPV vaccination is associated with a greater than 90 percent reduction in oral HPV infection, and Michigan has 45 percent of males and females aged 13-17 years old, who have completed the vaccination series; and,

WHEREAS, according to the American Dental Association, HPV which infects the mouth and throat can cause oropharyngeal cancer, and is thought to cause 70 percent of the oropharyngeal cancers in the United States and infecting men twice as likely than women; and,

WHEREAS, according to the National Cancer Institute, moderate alcohol drinkers have nearly double the risk of oral and oropharyngeal cancers, and heavy drinkers are five times more at risk of these cancers, and those who quit drinking significantly decrease their risk; and,

WHEREAS, according to the World Health Organization, tobacco use kills over 6 million people world-wide, containing more than 250 chemicals that are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer, second-hand smoke and “smokeless tobacco” such as chewing tobacco and snuff use significantly increase risk factors for oral or oropharyngeal cancer; and,

WHEREAS, we join with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to raise awareness of preventing oral cancer; and,

WHEREAS, regular oral cancer examinations performed by an oral health professional remain the best method for detecting oral cancer in its early stages, and when detected and treated early, treatment related health problems are reduced, and survival rates may increase;

NOW, THEREFORE, I Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim April 2019 as Oral Cancer Awareness Month in Michigan and urge all citizens and community organizations to join in this observance.