Free oral, head and neck cancer screening set for April 24

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HOUSTON - (April 6, 2014) - The Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at UTHealth Medical School will offer free cancer screenings in observance of the 17th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW) on Thursday, April 24, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the 27th Floor of the Memorial Hermann Medical Plaza (6400 Fannin Street, Houston, TX). 

The screening is painless and only takes about 10 minutes. 

Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 13,000 lives per year. However, there is hope; if diagnosed early, these cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.  

Who should get tested?

Every adult. Tobacco and alcohol users traditionally have been considered the populations at greatest risk for these cancers. However, throat cancer cases are on the rise in younger adults who do not smoke, and recent research indicates this development is due partly to the increase of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. HPV-related oral, head and neck cancers are more difficult to detect because these cancers usually occur on the back of the tongue or on the tonsils, providing even more reason to get screened regularly.

What are the potential warning signs of oral, head and neck cancers?

The signs and symptoms of oral, head and neck cancer often go unnoticed. However, there are a few visible signs associated with these cancers that require immediate attention, including:

  • A lump in your neck
  • A sore in your mouth that doesn't heal or that increases in size
  • Persistent pain in your mouth
  • Lumps or white or red patches inside your mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue
  • Soreness in your throat or feeling that something is caught in your throat
  • Changes in your voice (hoarseness)

If you have any of the above warning signs, do not wait for the free screenings. Seek medical attention immediately.

If you’ll be out-of-town, free screenings will be offered at hundreds of participating institutions worldwide as part of OHANCAW, which is scheduled for the week of April 20-26.  Visit www.OHANCAW.com for the full list of participating sites and for more information. OHANCAW is sponsored nationally by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.