Free oral, head and neck cancer screenings at Griffin Hospital

For the fourth straight year, Griffin Hospital will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital, 350 Seymour Ave., Derby.

The outside of Griffin Hospital in Derby.

The outside of Griffin Hospital in Derby.

Held during Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, the free screenings aim to catch cancers that arise in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid glands, salivary glands, throat or larynx (voice box) at an early and treatable stage.

“Just because a person can’t feel anything out of the ordinary, doesn’t mean a cancer of the head and neck isn’t there,” said Dr. Ken Yanagisawa, an ear, nose and throat specialist and president elect of the Connecticut ENT Society.

“More than 100,000 Americans were diagnosed with these types of cancers last year,” Yanagisawa said. “Unfortunately, many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these life-threatening diseases and by the time they are diagnosed, for some, it’s too late.

More than $121,000 new cases a year

Griffin Hospital will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, at the Center for Cancer Care, 350 Seymour Avenue, Derby.

Griffin Hospital will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, at the Center for Cancer Care, 350 Seymour Avenue, Derby.

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 121,790 new cases of head and neck cancers will be diagnosed in 2015, resulting in more than 14,000 deaths.

Last year, Griffin screened 40 individuals and potentially saved the lives of 3 individuals by referring them for additional screening and, in one case, giving an immediate referral for an abnormal growth.

The screening is painless and takes about 10 minutes.

Greatest risk: tobacco, alcohol users

Oral cancer screenings are recommended for every adult, Yanagisawa said, especially for tobacco and alcohol users who are traditionally at the greatest risk.

However, oral cancer cases are on the rise in younger adults who do not smoke, and recent research indicates this development is due partly to the increase of the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus.

Symptoms associated with oral cancer, include:

• 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.

Space for the free screenings is limited, so early registration is encouraged. To register, call 203-732-1280.

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