Maryland Department of Health recognizes Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April

Anke Neustadt

April 8, 2022

Media contacts:

Deidre McCabe, Director, Office of Communications, 410-767-3536

Andy Owen, Deputy Director for Media Relations, 410-767-6491

Maryland Department of Health recognizes Oral Cancer Awareness Month in April

MDH encourages residents to help prevent oral cancer by knowing the risks, getting screened 

Baltimore, MD – April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) encourages Marylanders to understand the risks of oral cancer and get screened. 

Every hour, someone in the United States dies of oral or oropharyngeal cancer, which affects the back of the oral cavity and upper throat. If oral cancer is detected and treated early, health problems are reduced and survival rates may increase. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2022 approximately 54,000 new cases of oral cancer will occur in the United States—and about 11,230 people will die from it. More than 500 Marylanders will be diagnosed this year. 

This April, MDH has made available resources that raise awareness of the risks of oral cancer and encourage Maryland residents to see a dental health professional for an oral cancer examination, including:

“Screening for oral cancer only takes a few minutes during a dental appointment,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “Regular oral cancer screenings remain the best method for detecting oral cancer in its early stages.“

“Many residents have delayed screenings and routine care during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan. “Oral Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to see your dentist or other oral care provider to catch up on screening and routine care. When you visit, ask to be screened for oral cancer. ”

Oral cancer is predominantly caused by tobacco use or excessive alcohol use. Signs and symptoms of oral cancer may include one or more of the following symptoms, which tend to be persistent and do not resolve on their own:

  • Any sore or ulceration that does not heal within 14 days

  • A red, white, or black discoloration of the soft tissues of the mouth

  • Any abnormality that bleeds easily when touched

  • A lump or hard spot in the tissue, usually along the border of the tongue 

  • Tissue raised above that which surrounds it or a growth

  • A sore under a denture, which even after adjustment of the denture does not heal

  • A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth

  • A painless, firm, fixated lump felt on the outside of the neck that has been there for at least two weeks

Residents who have concerns about their oral health should contact a dental health care provider. MDH’s Oral Health Resource Guide, available in both English and Spanish, lists discounted, low-cost, and special-needs dental care resources available across the state. 

Marylanders who would like support to quit tobacco can visit MDH’s Maryland’s Tobacco Quitline or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). 



The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement. 

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