Phoebe offers free cancer screenings

Photo Credit: MGN Online

Phoebe Cancer Center is offering free cancer screenings on Saturday, April 13, from 9 a.m. to noon, in observance of the 16th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week. Appointments for the 10-minute, painless screening are on a first-come, first-served basis, by calling 312-2315 of an appointment. A limited number of walk-in appointments will also be available.

Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 13,000 lives per year. These cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase if diagnosed early, according to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.

A portion of the funding for the free screenings is being provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb, in association with the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.

The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance suggests that every adult needs to be screened. In the past, tobacco and alcohol users were the population considered most at risk for oral, head and neck cancers. But oral cancer cases are on the rise in younger adults who do not smoke. Recent research indicates this change in younger adults is due partly to the increase of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. 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.

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:

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

A lump in your neck