Oral Cancer Screening Clinic first of a kind – By Ray Hudson

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L-R President & CEO Dr. Harinder Dhanju, Dr. Marcia Boyd-Director, Dr. Coby Craig-Director, Dr. Charles Shuler-Director.

A Dentist, a Rotary Club, create annual event

Dr. Harinder Dhanju
Dr. Harinder Dhanju
Sandy Jhand, President Surrey-Newton Rotary Club
Sandy Jhand, President Surrey-Newton Rotary Club

Surrey: When a successful dentist with a drive to “give back” combines with the community service focus of Rotary, wonderful things happen. On Sunday, September 11, Dr. Dhanju, his colleagues in partnership with the Rotary Club of Surrey-Newton staged the first oral cancer screening clinic ever held in the Lower Mainland, if not the whole of western Canada.

The idea to hold a public clinic came out of a search for a health-centered project by the Surrey-Newton Rotary Club and its president,” Sandy Jhand, a local realtor. It has been a goal of Dr. Dhanju, and it was his connection to the Surrey-Newton Rotary Club that brought it to reality.

“Since I became club president,” Jhand said, “I wanted involve our club in health care education. I came across the Pacific Oral Health Society and thought we could partner with them to hold an oral cancer screening clinic. They were very happy to join our cause, and as result, we did something that no one else had done before, a public oral cancer screening clinic.”

At the same time that the Rotary club was seeking a project, Dr. Harry Dhanju, who has an established dental practice in Newton, had also been developing and expanding the Pacific Oral Health Society in a new state-of-the-art building in South Surrey. By building his own facility and designing the clinical and laboratory infrastructure, he could combine his professional services with his position as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of BC. In this role he is engaged in training dentists at UBC, assisting immigrating dentists, to become credentialed in Canada. As well he is on a mission to educate and motivate the general public to pay attention to the oral health, with extra attention on the south Asian community.

L-R President & CEO Dr. Harinder Dhanju, Dr. Marcia Boyd-Director, Dr. Coby Craig-Director, Dr. Charles Shuler-Director.
L-R President & CEO Dr. Harinder Dhanju, Dr. Marcia Boyd-Director, Dr. Coby Craig-Director, Dr. Charles Shuler-Director.

“Surrey-Newton Rotary approached us and we se up a date for the screening event,” said Dr. Dhanju. “They were the ones who promoted it in the community through radio, tv and announcements everywhere, that on September 11, the Rotary club and Dr. Dhanju’s clinic and the Pacific Oral Health Society would hold the screening clinic. I engaged my colleagues and contacts from the dental faculty at UBC and the BC Oral Cancer prevention program.” “We had some twenty dentists, assistants and other professionals to help with the clinic.”

“The public response was significant,” said Jhand. “Of the two hundred and sixty-three people who registered, just over two hundred people were screened.”

“Out of that two hundred,” said Dhanju, twenty-five people were put on medication for minor problems, and five people were given a follow up at the BC Cancer Prevention Oral Program, because they had a progressive disease which could lead to oral cancer. So that is the difference that the Surrey Newton Rotary Club and the Pacific Oral Health Society made in those people’s lives.”

Both Sandy Jhand and Dr. Dhanju considered the clinic a major success and agreed to make the screening clinic an annual event.

“This is a very good proposal,” said Dhanju, “and we appreciate the Rotary Club’s humanitarian work in the neighbourhood. We will be happy to be part of that with our UBC affiliated team and the BC Oral Cancer Prevention Program.”

In the meantime, Dr. Dhanju urges everyone to see their dentist at least once a year to protect against this and other oral health issues.  The Asian Journal salutes the Rotary Cub of Surrey Newton, and Dr. Harry Dhanju, the Pacific Oral Health Society, and his UBC colleagues and the BC Oral Cancer Prevention Program.

The screening clinic is one element of the activities of the Pacific Oral Health Society, and in a future report we will present an in-depth interview the Dr. Dhanju on the full scope of the society and the work being done to serve both the south Asian and general population. See www.pohs.ca