Staff Contact:

Andrea J. Burney, APR

Director of  Public Relations


DANVILLE, VA, October 5, 2015 – Every year, 43,250 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer, and 43 percent of those diagnosed will not survive more than five years. Danville Community College’s Dental Hygiene Program is doing its part to educate students and the community about the disease.

An upcoming seminar, which is eligible for one continuing education credit, gives dental hygiene students, and dental and medical professionals the opportunity to learn more about oral cancer. The seminar, “Head and Neck Cancer Awareness,? is set for Thursday, October 8, from 6:45-7:45 p.m. in DCC’s Silverman Auditorium (Foundation Hall). Dr. Fernando Gomez-Rivera, Otolaryngologist and a head and neck surgeon with Sentara Southern Virginia Ear, Nose & Throat, is the instructor.

“Dr. Gomez-Rivera’s talk will be a good review of head and neck cancer for people who have not heard about it in a while. He will provide excellent tips useful for identifying and diagnosing the disease,? says Robin Mitchell, an adjunct faculty member in the Dental Hygiene Program. “It will also be very interesting for our Dental Hygiene students to see how head and neck cancer can present itself in ways they never would have expected. A major part of our program, along with teaching students how to clean teeth, is to teach them how to educate patients about their oral health.?

In addition to discussing the frequency, causes, symptoms and types of head and neck cancer, Dr. Gomez-Rivera will cover diagnosis and how to reduce the risk of head and neck cancer. Dr. Gomez-Rivera is board-certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology, and holds a medical degree from LaSalle University. He has also completed fellowships in surgical oncology at The University of Alabama and in head and neck surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Mitchell says she stresses the importance of early detection of oral cancer.

“Carrying on a normal life with severe oral cancer is difficult, so it is important to catch it in the early stages. Everyone should have an annual dental exam that includes an extra-intra oral exam,? Mitchell adds.

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, awareness of risk factors for oral cancer is important. Risk factors include tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, the combined use of tobacco and alcohol, excessive unprotected exposure to sun, and low intake of fruits and vegetables.

If you plan to attend the seminar, contact Robin Mitchell at If you would like to receive free dental services in the Dental Hygiene Clinic, call 434.797.8424 to make an appointment.


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