Faculty and Staff, Students

Student, dentist team up for oral cancer presentation

Amy Lawson, DDS '27, and Ricardo Padilla, DDS, with their oral cancer research table at UNC Lineberger's Exploring Cancer Spring Event.

Adams School of Dentistry’s Amy Lawson, DDS ’27, and Ricardo Padilla, DDS, were recently invited to represent ASOD at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s “Exploring Cancer Spring Event.” The event was inspired by discussions around cancer health care disparities at a weekly collaborative seminar series with NC Central University and NC A&T and soon grew into a large-scale event.

“I was inspired by interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogue between fields such as cancer research, pharmacy, health, and speech-language pathology. This unity and shared mission to raise awareness for cancer and cancer research illustrates the importance of working together to achieve whole-patient care,” Lawson said.

Lawson said Padilla helped her speak with confidence on oral cancer detection and prevention.

Lawson and Padilla put together an exhibition table for the event sharing information about oral cancer prevention, types of oral cancer, dentistry’s role in preventing/detecting/treating oral cancer, and how to apply to DDS and dental hygiene programs at UNC.

“Dr. Padilla was fantastic to work with because he challenged me to come up with the vision for the table while equipping me to make my ideas come to life. He also taught me how to instruct others in oral cancer prevention and detection,” Lawson said. “I am grateful for Dr. Padilla’s enthusiasm throughout the event. Even at the event, Dr. Padilla encouraged me to be the main speaker at our table, instilling in me the knowledge and confidence to share what I had been learning with others.”

Lawson was first inspired to learn more about oral cancers during her classes at ASOD focused on oral pathology. During her coursework and while brainstorming with other students, she learned more about head and neck cancer and how cancer treatments can often exacerbate dental problems.

“Early detection saves lives,” Lawson said. “Routine dental visits are important for the health of both the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth. I hope this project will inspire people to seek routine dental care and cancer screenings so that they can detect cancer early and therefore have better treatment outcomes.”