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Ten Minutes That Could Save Your Life

Published on April 16, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Ga. -- 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.  However, there is hope.  If diagnosed early, oral, head and neck cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase. 

Who should get tested?
Every adult.  Tobacco and alcohol users traditionally have been considered the people at greatest risk for these cancers.  However, oropharyngeal cancer is on the rise in young adults who do not smoke.  Researchers have attributed this development partly to the increase of the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which can be transmitted by oral sex.  Oropharyngeal cancers associated with HPV are more difficult to detect because these cancers usually occur on the back of the tongue or on the tonsils, providing all the more reason to get screened regularly.

What are the potential warning signs of oral cancers?
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:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth that last more than two weeks
  • Change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks
  • Sore throat that does not subside
  • Pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not subside
  • Lump in the neck
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

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

Where and when can I get screened locally?
Roger Farmer, MD, an otolaryngologist with Northeast Georgia Otolaryngology, will offer free screenings from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 16, 2011 at his office, located at 2406 Lighthouse Drive in Gainesville, Ga.  Each screening is painless and only takes about 10 minutes.

Why should I get screened?
If the above wasn’t enough encouragement, get screened because it’s quick, painless and free.  Given the current state of the economy and rising health care costs, take advantage of the opportunity to benefit from this preventive health measure at no charge by taking 10 minutes to do something that could save your life.  Please contact us at 770-219-8842 to sign up for your free oral cancer screening today.

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