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UCSF Offers Free Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Screenings on May 1

By UCSF Today | April 27, 2009

In observance of Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week, UCSF will provide members of the public with free, drop-in screenings for oral, head and neck cancers on Friday, May 1.

Sponsored by the UCSF Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery's oncology practice, the screenings will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at 2380 Sutter St. on the second floor. Appointments are not necessary.

Screenings will involve a thorough head, neck and intraoral exam. Should UCSF clinicians find anything that warrants further assessment, patients will receive a written summary with instructions to seek further care.

In 2008, about 7,550 Americans died from oral, head and neck cancers. However, if diagnosed very early, oral, head and neck cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.

Experts advise that every adult should get tested for oral, head and neck cancers. Tobacco and alcohol users traditionally have been considered the people at greatest risk for these cancers. Oropharyngeal cancer, however, is on the rise in young adults who do not smoke.

Researchers have attributed this development partly to the increase of the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which can be transmitted by oral sex. Oropharyngeal cancer associated with HPV is more difficult to detect because it usually occurs on the back of the tongue or on the tonsils, providing all the more reason to get screened regularly.

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