Ten Minutes That Could Save Your Life

Oral, head and neck cancers — most of which are preventable — account for approximately 3 percent of all cancer cases in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. In 2009, more than 35,000 Americans were diagnosed with these cancers and 7,600 died.

To help combat cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx, Loyola University Medical Center will offer free screenings for oral, head and neck cancers as part of the 12th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, April 12-18, sponsored nationally by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, formerly the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation).

“Oral and other head and neck cancers remain a target for early detection. When diagnosed very early, it is easier to treat and cure,” said Dr. Chad Zender, assistant professor, Department of Otolaryngology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood.

The screenings will take place from 4-7 p.m. on Monday, April 19, in the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, 2160 S. First Ave., Maywood, Ill. Screenings will be open to the public and will be done by Loyola physicians and nurses. The screenings, which take less than 10 minutes to perform, will include a visual examination of the inside of the mouth and a check for areas of swelling or lumps in the head and neck.

Loyola staff will assist participants in making follow-up appointments as needed. Parking is $5. Valet parking is $6. Refreshments will be free. Appointments are required for the screenings. For questions, please contact Laura Morrell at (708) 327-2042. To make an appointment, call (888) LUHS-888.

The event will also include information on how to prevent oral, head and neck cancers and counseling on ways to reduce risk factors and make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol use, said Patricia Mumby, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, Stritch School of Medicine.

“More than 85 percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use, making this one of the most preventable diseases of our time,” said Mumby, who provides counseling to patients in Loyola’s Smoking Cessation Clinic. “It’s heartbreaking to see people suffering who didn’t have to. We hope to encourage people to get regular checkups and to eliminate high-risk habits like smoking.”

Common warning signs of oral, head & neck cancer include:

• A red or white patch in the mouth that lasts more than two years
• 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

Warning signs that occur during the later stages of the disease include:

• Ear pain
• Difficulty speaking or swallowing
• Difficulty breathing

Source:  Loyola University Health System

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