April 16, 2013

Gordon Hospital to offer free screenings

Reservations required

Submitted by Gordon Hospital

CALHOUN — 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,” says Lanell Jacobs, director of oncology services for Gordon Hospital “However, there is hope; if diagnosed early, these cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.”

Gordon Hospital, in partnership with Drs. Sean Coleman and Stephen Ryals of Calhoun ENT Associates, P.C., will be offering free oral, head and neck cancer screenings on Thursday, April 18. The screenings will be held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Harris Radiation Therapy Center at Gordon Hospital. While the screenings are free, reservations are required by calling (706) 602-7800, ext. 2305. The screening is painless and only takes about 10 minutes.  

“Tobacco and alcohol users traditionally have been considered the populations at greatest risk for these cancers,” Jacobs adds. “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 sexually transmitted.”

According to information from the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, 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. Most oral cancers arise on the lips, tongue or the floor of the mouth. They also may occur inside your cheeks, on your gums or on the roof of your mouth. Other head and neck cancers arise from the voice box or throat.

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

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