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beneath the surFACE Trailer

beneath the surFACE

Endorsed by*:

American Cancer Society logo

American Cancer Society logo

beneath the surFACE is a cancer prevention, awareness and education outreach program focusing on HPV related cancers, especially head and neck cancer, developed by the Upstate Cancer Center in Syracuse, NY in 2016. The primary audiences are students in the age range of 9 to 13 (middle school) 14 to 18+ (high school), and in 2023, a presentation for college students was developed.

The program focuses on educating students on the importance of avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol use and receiving the HPV vaccine to reduce the risk of head and neck and other HPV related cancers. For college students, the primary focus is on HPV prevention.

Initially, the project worked with eight local high schools and presented to over 3,000 health class students. The presentation and information include a PowerPoint lesson plan with speaker notes for instructors, student activities, including an art project, HPV resources, and a documentary of the original project. The information is reviewed and updated on a regular basis, with the last update in January 2024.

As part of the cancer prevention lesson plan, art students can create works of art from radiation masks. These masks are worn by head and neck cancer patients during radiation treatment, serving as stark reminders of their challenging times. However, through the artistic vision of students, these masks are transformed and offer a powerful message of support and solidarity to head and neck cancer patients.

*The American Cancer Society is grateful to Upstate Medical University for their efforts to educate the community on the importance of the HPV vaccination. Upstate is a true partner for the Society's mission to attack cancer from every angle.

Program Components

  • If you would like to have several of the Program Components open in separate tabs or windows, right-click or control-click the component and select your preference.
  • Please be sure to complete the survey following your lesson to help us make improvements to the curriculum.

We are working on updating the beneath the surFACE presentation. If you have questions in the meantime, please email [email protected]

These materials are for educational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. Because of unique individual needs, the readers should consult their personal physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader's individual situation.

Origins of beneath the surFACE

mask artOriginally the program was presented to several middle and high school health classes. We also partnered with art classes in a unique project that educated and brought awareness. Students were allowed to take creative license in the creation of masks through their art classes and learn about Head and Neck cancer. Canvases of the radiation masks make for a unique display of what patients might experience during their treatment. The masks were then auctioned in order to raise funds for patients of Head and Neck Cancer.

The participation and response was overwhelmingly positive from all involved. Several schools requested the presentation materials in order to teach it in their own classes. Based on these requests, we have created highly pertinent digital content that is easy to use and navigate.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, beneath the surFACE by Upstate Medical University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License..

For More Information


Martha J Ryan, RN, MPS
Program Coordinator, beneath the surFACE
[email protected]
315 415-0682