MCHENRY – Centegra Health System will offer a free screening for oral, head and neck cancer from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 7 at the Centegra Sage Cancer Center, 4305 Medical Center Drive in McHenry.Registration is required. Register by calling (877) CENTEGRA.During the screenings, Dr. Ted Hughes, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, will provide a thorough exam of the mouth, oral cavity, head, neck and facial area to detect any precancerous lesions or problems. Although this screening does not take the place of an annual exam by a personal physician, it is a valuable tool for recognizing conditions that could become serious.Oral, head and neck cancers are located in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid glands, salivary glands, throat or voice box and account for about six percent of all malignancies in the United States. Tobacco use is linked to 85 percent of oral, head and neck cancers.”Many of these cancers form in the areas where tobacco or alcohol has the most contact,” said Hughes. “Those include areas where the cigarette sits on the lip or where the chewing tobacco is placed in the mouth.” Although cigarette smoking increases a person’s risk of head and neck cancer by 15 times compared to a non-smoker, other factors can contribute to these cancers. One of these, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, contributes to cancers of the lips, and today, about 10,000 new cases of oral, head and neck cancer can be attributed to a particular strain of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The incidence of thyroid cancer has also increased in all races and in both males and females in the past two decades.Signs of oral, head and neck cancer are a sore in a mouth that doesn’t heal, constant pain in a mouth, lumps or patches in a mouth, pain around teeth, change in voice or a lump in a neck. Most oral cancers form on the lips, tongue or floor of the mouth. They may also happen inside the cheeks, on the gums or on the roof of the mouth.Hughes said there are steps a person can take to lower the chances of developing oral, head and neck cancer.”It is important to maintain a healthy diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and to receive regular screenings for these cancers,” Hughes said. “As always, we tell people to stop smoking and to moderate their use of alcohol. These healthy steps could save your life.” Centegra Hospital – McHenry is recognized as having one of a few cancer programs in the state to receive the Commission on Cancer (CoC) Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Additionally, all the Centegra Sage Cancer Center nurses are oncology certified. Patients needing additional follow-up may be referred to Centegra’s conveniently located medical imaging departments for various state-of-the-art, diagnostic breast exams including ultrasounds, breast MRIs and PET/CTs.Centegra Health System is committed to meeting the healthcare needs of the residents of greater McHenry County and to making services available in multiple and convenient locations, including hospitals in McHenry and Woodstock, Immediate and Primary Care Centers, Centegra Sage Cancer Center, Health Bridge Fitness Centers and more. As the region’s leading healthcare provider, Centegra Health System continues to bring the latest treatments and technology, along with the skills of nearly 4,000 medical professionals, to meet the needs of the growing McHenry County community. For more information on Centegra Health System visit centegra.org, search Centegra Health System on Facebook or call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).