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University of Missouri Health Care News Releases
Free cancer screening highlights oral, head and neck cancer awareness week

April 8, 2010                                                                               Contact: Matt Splett
                                                                                                      Media Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                    (573) 882-5663

 COLUMBIA, Mo. — Ellis Fischel Cancer Center will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings for men and women age 18 and older from 2 to 4 pm on Friday, April 16, on the sixth floor of the cancer center.

The screenings are available as a walk-in clinic, and no appointment is necessary.

Each screening will include a physical examination of the patient’s mouth, facial area and neck by a head and neck cancer specialist at Ellis Fischel. The screening process is painless and takes less than ten minutes.

“I would encourage every adult — especially tobacco users — to take ten minutes and receive an oral, head and neck cancer screening,” said Robert Zitsch, M.D., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology and a head and neck surgical oncologist at University of Missouri Health Care. “It’s a decision that could ultimately save your life.”

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is offering the free screening in conjunction with Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (April 12-18).

According to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, more than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with cancer of the head and neck. Approximately 13,000 people will die from the cancer. Many of the people diagnosed are tobacco users who have put themselves at a greater risk for developing these cancers.

“About eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use,” said Jeff Jorgensen, M.D., a head and neck surgical oncologist at MU Health Care. “The first step in preventing these cancers is to stop smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol excessively.”

Zitsch and Jorgensen stress that early detection leads to better outcomes and greatly improves the chance of survival. Often the signs and symptoms of oral, head and neck cancers go unnoticed. Free screening events like the one scheduled at Ellis Fischel provide unsuspecting patients the opportunity to diagnose the cancer at an early stage.

Some signs and symptoms that require immediate attention may include:

• A sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal or increases in size
• Persistent pain in your mouth
• Lumps or white, red or dark patches in your mouth
• Thickening of your cheek
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue
• Difficulty moving your jaw or swelling or pain in your jaw
• Soreness in your throat
• Pain around your teeth or loosening of your teeth
• Numbness of your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth
• Changes in your voice
• A lump in your neck

For more information about the screening, call (573) 882-8445.

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, a part of University of Missouri Health Care, provides comprehensive cancer care to patients from every county in the state. More than 100 physician specialists and other trained professionals work together to improve and save the lives of cancer patients. Designated Missouri’s official state cancer center in 2004, Ellis Fischel services include inpatient and outpatient treatment and cancer screening.

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