According to Mercy, more young people are getting diagnosed with oral cancer than ever before and the key is to catch it early.
Mercy and Jordan Valley will be hosting the free oral, head and neck cancer screenings, Tuesday April 8 from 9 am to 3 pm at Jordan Valley Community Health Center.
According to the American Cancer Society, oral or oropharyngeal cancers are the sixth most common cancer in the world and nearly 50,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year and 7,300 die from it.
“At first I thought, ‘Oh, I’m not going to make this one’,” said Linda Cummins of Springfield. “I’d had cancer before, so I knew the symptoms.” After a yearlong struggle with a severely sore throat, the 57-year-old knew it was time to visit her doctor. “I had blisters on top of blisters. I was living on antibiotics. I decided to finally have a biopsy and sure enough, I tested positive for cancer.”
“The most cases of oral cancer we’re seeing are like Linda’s, where they’re on the tonsil and base of the tongue,” said Dr. Pinheiro. “When it comes to cancers in the mouth, throat and larynx, the most modifiable risk factor is cigarette smoking.”
Other risk factors include excessive alcohol consumption and contracting human papillomavirus (HPV). “It used to primarily be people 60 years of age and older, but it’s dropped to the 30-50 age range,” added Dr. Pinheiro. “That’s with the advent of HPV and changes in sexual behaviors.”
Signs and symptoms include hoarseness or change in voice, swallowing problems or pain, and bleeding from the nose, mouth or throat.
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