“This will be our third year to offer oral screenings,” said Chase Adams, director of oncology services at The Hope Center. “We continue to feel that this free screening is extremely beneficial to the overall health of our community, which boasts a large population of ‘at-risk’ individuals. Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking and alcohol consumption. When combined, the risk increases over 100 times that of individuals who do not drink or smoke. North Georgia, including Bartow County, is considered to be part of the ‘smoking belt,’ which is the region of the U.S. that has the highest prevalence of smokers in the country.
“The purpose of this screening is a combination of early detection of cancers and awareness of potential risk factors. Early detection is one of the most critical factors in determining treatment success. A cancer that is detected in its earliest stage, Stage 1, is usually very localized. Meaning that it has not spread to other parts of the body.”
Adams continued, “Patients with localized oral cancer have a five-year survival rate of nearly 83 percent. That survival rate can drop to 37 percent if the cancer is not detected early, and has had a chance to spread. In addition to the clinical oral screening, participants will be provided with smoking cessation materials, to help them begin their journey to a more healthy lifestyle.”
From 1 to 5 p.m., screenings will be administered by Drs. William Thoms, Madhurima Uppalapati, Satyen Mehta and Sanjay Athavale.
According to a news release from The Hope Center, “Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 13,000 lives per year. If diagnosed early, these cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.
“… 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:
• 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.”
Lasting 10 minutes, Athavale said, the screening is a quick but important tool in detecting these types of cancers early.
“We just do an assessment of the person’s head and neck, in terms of looking in their nose, looking in their throat, feeling their neck, making sure there’s nothing that looks or feels abnormal,” said Athavale, an otolaryngologist with Northwest ENT and Allergy Center. “… If somebody, God forbid, had something in their head or neck that was cancerous, the earlier you can detect it and find it the better in terms of outcome and survival and quality of life. ... The second thing is educating people as to what causes cancer is important and they’ll learn that at the screening.”
While the two biggest risk factors are tobacco and/or alcohol use, the medical profession also is seeing an increase in human papillomavirus-related oral cancers.
“There’s an increase in prevalence of throat cancer related to the HPV virus,” Athavale said. “That’s the same virus that women go to their gynecologist to get Pap smears for, for cervical cancer. It’s the same virus that causes throat cancer and the incidents of that is rising.
“So even if a person doesn’t smoke and drink and lives a relatively healthy lifestyle, they still run the risk of getting throat cancer through that virus. So it’s important to be educated on that as well. The viral cancer tends to happen in people that are between 40 and 55 as opposed to the smoking and drinking version, which tends to occur in people that are 55 and over.”
With only 64 slots available, interested individuals are encouraged to sign up quickly by calling MedLine at 800-242-5662.