State Tobacco Program to Work with Dentists to Fight Oral Cancer
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced today that it is offering free cancer test kits to Montana dental offices.
The oral brush biopsy kits are designed to test for several types of cancer associated with tobacco addiction, according to Stacy Campbell, tobacco cessation specialist with the DPHHS Tobacco Use Prevention Program. The kits will be distributed in February as part of a state campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of spit tobacco.
"Oral health-care providers have an important role to play in making patients aware of the health risks associated with spit tobacco and helping users to quit," Campbell said.
The American Cancer Society recommends that those who use spit tobacco see their dentist regularly for oral health screenings.
DPHHS is asking dental health-care providers to screen all patients who use spit tobacco and refer them to the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at 866-485-QUIT (7848). This free cessation program offers telephone counseling and nicotine replacement therapy.
"Thirteen percent of Montana men use spit tobacco, a rate that's twice the national average," Campbell said. "What's more alarming is that 27 percent of Montana male high school seniors use spit tobacco."
These Montanans are 50 times more likely to develop oral cancer than non-users, she added.
The February campaign will include "Through with Chew Week" Feb.18-24, when the state tobacco use prevention program will sponsor activities designed to prevent and alleviate spit tobacco addiction.