SPRINGFIELD – In 2012 more than 100,000 Americans were diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck.
In observance of Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, Baystate Medical Center will be offering free oral, head and neck cancer screenings. It’s part of a nationwide effort to increase awareness of these cancers.
Free screenings will be held on Wednesday, April 16, from 2-6 p.m. at the D’Amour Center for Cancer Care at 3350 Main St. in Springfield. To register for an appointment, call Baystate Health Link at 413-794-2255 or outside the Springfield calling area at 800-377-4325.
Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 13,000 lives each year. Many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these life-threatening diseases – including cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx – and the sooner they are diagnosed, the better the treatment options.
There are a few important 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.
Tobacco, including dip and chewing tobacco, and alcohol use are the most significant risk factors for head and neck cancers.
Every adult should be screened. Tobacco and alcohol users traditionally have been considered the populations at greatest risk for these cancers. 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), a cancer-causing infection that can be transmitted by oral sex.
For more information on the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, or for a referral to an oncologist, call the Baystate Regional Cancer Program at 413-794-BRCP.