COLUMBIA, Mo. — Ellis Fischel Cancer Center will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings for men and women age 18 and older from 1:30 to 3:30 pm on Friday, May 20, on the sixth floor of the cancer center.
Reservations are required to attend the free screening and can be made by calling (573) 882-7903.
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 10 minutes.
“I would encourage every adult — especially tobacco users — to take 10 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 (May 8-14).
According to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, more than 40,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with cancer of the head and neck. Actor Michael Douglas was among those diagnosed in 2010, when doctors discovered a tumor in Douglas’ throat. An aggressive course of treatment appears to have saved Douglas’ life, and through his experience he’s encouraging other Americans to take advantage of free oral, head and neck cancer screenings during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.
In interviews following his diagnosis, Douglas blamed the throat cancer on excessive drinking and smoking. Like Douglas, many of the people diagnosed with oral, head or neck cancers 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 offer an 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
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.