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Free head and neck cancer screening event set for April 25

Apr. 17, 2014, 9:01 AM

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Vanderbilt Department of Otolaryngology will hold the annual head and neck cancer screening event Friday, April 25, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The screenings are free, open to the public and require no appointment.

This year’s event will be offered at two locations: Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, Medical Center East, South Tower, 7th floor in the Odess Head and Neck Surgery Clinic; and the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, 1310 24th Ave. S., first floor Surgical Clinic No. 1-ENT Clinic.

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 80,000 Americans are diagnosed with head and neck cancer every year.

These cancers can occur in the nasal cavity, sinuses, throat, lips, mouth, thyroid, salivary glands or larynx (voice box).

“Head and neck cancer symptoms can often be mistaken for the effects of a lingering cold or allergies, so it’s important to have a professional check-up,” said Sarah Rohde, M.D., assistant professor of Otolaryngology. “Head and neck cancer is quite treatable or even curable when found early.”

Lumps, bumps or sore spots on the head or neck, lesions on the tongue, or discomfort in the mouth and throat may be early symptoms of head and neck cancer and if these issues continue for more than two weeks they can be a sign of something serious.

Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or a change in the voice.
Head and neck cancer has typically been associated with older patients with a history of heavy tobacco or alcohol use, but younger patients are also developing the disease because they have been exposed to the human papilloma virus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted virus.

Most people shed the virus soon after exposure, but in some individuals it can lead to the development of cancers, including cervical and head and neck cancer.

A recent study found men are three times more likely to have an HPV infection than women and are far more likely to develop oral cancers.

The free head and neck cancer screening exams take only a few minutes and are painless. During the exam, physicians inspect the mouth and throat and check the neck for abnormalities in the thyroid, lymph nodes or salivary glands.

For more information about the screening, contact Michelle Pham at 936-4896 or email

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