For Immediate Release:
April 1, 2013
Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care and Northeast Ear Nose & Throat team up to provide free head and neck cancer screenings on April 23
"Oral cancer is a major health problem in this country and one that most people are not aware of," said Wendy B.R. Stern, MD, ear, nose and throat surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital and a member of Northeast Ear Nose & Throat in North Dartmouth. "It is vital that people — especially those who smoke and chew tobacco — learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of this cancer.
A head and neck cancer screening is quick and painless. Doctors will inspect the lips, gums, cheeks and mouth using a light. They will also feel for lumps in the neck.
"This screening offers a great opportunity for education and the chance for early detection," said Therese M. Mulvey, MD, medical oncologist and Physician-in-Chief for Southcoast Centers for Cancer Care. "Tobacco — including smokeless tobacco — and alcohol use are risk factors for head and neck cancers."
According to the Head & Neck Cancer Alliance, 85 percent of these cancers are linked to tobacco use. Smoking cigarettes is the major cause of most head and neck cancers, while chewing tobacco has been shown to cause mouth cancer. Head and neck cancers are more common in men and in people over the age of 40. It is estimated that some 50,000 men and women in the United States are diagnosed with head and neck cancers annually. Caucasians currently have the highest incidence rates of head and neck cancer, although death is still highest among African Americans.
Some of the symptoms that are common in head and neck cancer include a lump or sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing and a change or hoarseness in the voice.
"As physicians, we need to educate the public about head and neck cancer and encourage people to get regular checkups and to eliminate high-risk habits like smoking," Dr. Mulvey said.
The screening is sponsored in part by the Head & Neck Cancer Alliance in honor of Oral Cancer Awareness week. To learn more about head and neck cancer visit www.headandneck.org.