In recognizing April as National Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Month, Evansville Cancer Center/Vantage Oncology (ECC/VO) is hosting its second annual oral, head and neck cancer screenings event. The free cancer screenings will be provided by otolaryngologist Chris Chacko, M.D. of Tri-State Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons and Medical Director Jon D. Frazier, M.D. and radiation oncologist Noah Taylor of ECC/VO on Tuesday, April 30th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The screenings will take place at ECC/VO located at 700 North Burkhardt Road in Evansville. For more information about the event and/or to schedule a screening, please call 812-474-6000 or visit www.evansvilleradiationoncology.com.

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 82,760 new cases of oral, head and neck cancers will be diagnosed in 2013 with an estimated 15,800 of those cases resulting in death. Oral, head and neck cancer refers to a variety of cancers that develop in the head and neck region, such as the tongue, tonsils, sinuses, the larynx (voice box), thyroid and salivary glands, the skin of the face and neck, and the lymph nodes in the neck.

Common warning signs are:

• Red or white patch in the mouth that lasts more than two weeks

• Change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks

• Sore throat that does not subside

• Pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not subside

• Lump in the neck

Other warning signs that occur during later stages of the disease include:

• Ear pain

• Difficulty speaking or swallowing

• Difficulty breathing

According to the ACS, the most effective prevention strategy continues to be the cessation of behaviors such as smoking, use of chewing tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. Eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use. Research has linked the increase of tongue and tonsil cancer incidence in young adults, a population traditionally at low risk, to the rise of human papillomavirus (HPV), a cancer-causing virus that can be transmitted through oral sex.