Oral Cancer Screening: Ten Minutes That Could Save Your Life.
Just because you can’t feel it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just ask the more than 50,000 Americans who were diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck last year.
Unfortunately, many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these life‐threatening diseases, which include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx, and by the time they are diagnosed, for some, it’s too late. Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 12,000 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, oral 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, a cancer‐causing infection that can be transmitted by oral sex. HPV‐related oral 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 cancers?
The signs and symptoms of oral cancer often go unnoticed. However, there are a few visible signs associated with these cancers that require immediate attention, including:
- Red or white patches in the mouth that last more than two weeks
- Change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks
- Sore throat that does not subside
- Pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not subside
- Lump in the neck
- Ear pain
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
If you have any of the above warning signs, do not wait for the free screenings. Seek medical attention immediately.
Why should I get screened?
If the above stats weren’t reason enough, know that the screening is quick and painless. Early diagnosis and treatment improves outcomes and chances of survival, particularly for individuals with HPV‐related oral cancers.
Tammara Watts, MD, PhD
Assistant Professors Otolaryngology‐Head and Neck Surgery
University of Texas Medical Branch
How can I get screened locally?
UTMB Health’s Ear, Nose & Throat Consultants will offer free oral cancer screenings in observance of the 15th annual Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW) on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at their Brittany Plaza clinic, 1600 West League City Parkway, Suite D, League City, Texas. Screening hours will be between 8am and 5pm. The screening is painless and only takes about 10 minutes. Please contact us at 409-772-2715 to sign up for this free oral cancer screening. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred.
If you miss the free screening, please feel free to make an appointment for a screening with one of our cancer care specialists: Susan McCammon, MD, Vicente Resto, MD, PhD, FACS, Michael Underbrink, MD, MBA, or Tammara Watts, MD, PhD.
UTMB Health Ear, Nose & Throat Consultants
1600 West League City Parkway, Suite D
League City, Texas 77573