MADISON (WKOW) -- Doctors and dentists encourage people to get screened for oral cancer and they're making it easy for them to do it this month.
Oral, head and neck cancers include those that start in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid glands, salivary glands, throat or larynx.
Dr. Aaron Wieland with UW Health says some potential early signs and symptoms include a red or white spot in your mouth that doesn't heal or increases in size, a sore throat or swollen tonsil, changes in your voice, a lump in your neck, an earache or difficulty swallowing. You may also notice pain in your neck or throat, numbness in your face, blocked sinuses or frequent headaches.
Doctors say people who use both tobacco and alcohol are at a greater risk for developing these types of cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone, or who don't use either. And recently, the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) has been determined as a leading cause of oropharyngeal (tonsil and base of tongue) cancer. Most of those patients are young, non-smoking individuals.
The Oral Cancer Foundation says nearly 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year and more than 9,500 will die.
That's why doctors and dentists are encouraging people to get screened. "Early detection is key to saving lives," says Dr. David Gundersen with First Choice Dental in Fitchburg. "We are committed to the overall health of our patients and the community, and that is why we have decided that we will offer free oral cancer screenings permanently at all First Choice Dental offices. It is an important step in helping to prevent oral cancer and improve the outcome of its diagnosis."
You have to be 18 or older to get a free oral cancer screening at First Choice Dental. You can schedule an oral cancer screening by clicking on this link. You can schedule it for any First Choice Dental location.
Many other dental offices also offer free oral cancer screenings. Dr. Gunderson says you can call your own dentist to ask about an appointment.
Note: This story was originally published on April 18:
UW Health is also hosting a free oral cancer screening Friday, April 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Otolaryngology Clinic. The address is 600 Highland Avenue in Madison (Atrium at University Hospital). You don't need to register and parking is free. For more information, click on this link.