May 10, 2007 | As part of an ongoing outreach effort by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), 275 people took advantage of a free screening for oral, head and neck cancer April 20.
The second annual event was held at the UAMS Arkansas Cancer Research Center (ACRC) and is conducted by the UAMS Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.
“The screening day ran like clockwork,” said Brendan Stack Jr., M.D., director of the divisions of UAMS Head and Neck Oncology and Clinical Research. “No one had to wait longer than five minutes thanks to the hard work of our faculty, staff, volunteers and resident physicians.”
At the screening, several possible cancers were detected and six participants were referred for thyroid evaluations. Blood samples drawn from 111 people will assist in future cancer research.
“The causes of oral, head and neck cancer are often misunderstood,” Stack said. “More than 85 percent of these cancers are preventable. We must work harder at educating the public on how to avoid this devastating disease.”
In an effort to do just that, Gov. Mike Beebe proclaimed April 15-21 as Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.
The proclamation was made during a March 14 ceremony at the state Capitol attended by several representatives from UAMS.
Those at risk for oral, head and neck cancer include people who smoke, chew tobacco or consume excessive alcohol, as well as those who have previously had cancer in the area.
Signs and symptoms include sores in the mouth that do not go away, a growth or swelling in the neck, persistent sore throat, trouble swallowing or voice changes.
Fewer than 60 percent of all head and neck cancer patients will live five years following their diagnosis, primarily because many patients are diagnosed in the advanced stages of the disease.