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From left are Shavon Knighten of Unum Baton Rouge Region; Dr. Burke J. Brooks and social worker Takeasha Drake of Ochsner Cancer Center Baton Rouge; and Christy Reeves of Ochsner Baton Rouge.

Ochsner Cancer Center Baton Rouge recently accepted a $15,000 gift from insurance provider Unum Group to help patients with oral cancer.

Patients who are diagnosed with oral cancer usually require a dental evaluation and significant dental work prior to beginning their cancer treatment. Due to the high cost of this dental work outside of Ochsner, many patients lack the financial resources to complete this necessary step and unintentionally delay a physician’s ability to plan radiation therapy and begin curative treatments, according to a news release.

When available, patients with oral cancer can receive support with dental payments from the Ochsner General Cancer Patient Assistance Fund, which provides only partial funding. 

“Unum understands it is critical for patients to receive dental care immediately upon diagnosis,” stated Shavon Knighten, manager of corporate social responsibility with Unum Baton Rouge Region. “Radiation therapy cannot begin until three weeks after oral surgery or extractions are performed. Unum’s donation will be dedicated toward dental care for Ochsner patients diagnosed with oral cancer.”

Treating oral cancers as quickly as possible vastly improves long-term survival rates. “When treatment is delayed due to a lack of funding for dental care, patients risk their cancer progressing to a more aggressive, widespread stage,” said Dr. Burke J. Brooks, head of the hematology oncology section at Ochsner Cancer Center Baton Rouge.

For information or to schedule an appointment with an Ochsner practitioner, call (225) 761-5200 or visit ochsner.org/info.