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News: Free screening offered April 21 for oral, head and neck cancer

Centegra Health System will offer a free screening for oral, head and neck cancer from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 21 at the Centegra Sage Cancer Center, 4305 Medical Center Drive in McHenry. Registration is required. Register by calling 877-CENTEGRA (236-8347).

The 15th annual Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week is being conducted nationwide April 22 to 28. During one’s screening, Dr. Mobeen Shirazi, independent physician on staff at Centegra Hospital-McHenry, will provide a thorough exam of the mouth, oral cavity, head, and neck area to detect any precancerous changes. 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 Shirazi. “Those include areas where the cigarette sits on the lip or where the chewing tobacco is placed in the mouth.” According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 52,610 new cases of head and neck cancers will be diagnosed in 2012 with an estimated 11,500 of those cases resulting in death.

Signs of oral, head and neck cancer are red or white patches in the mouth that last 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 or a lump in the 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. Other warning signs that occur during later stages of the disease include ear pain, difficulty speaking or swallowing or difficulty breathing.

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. Shirazi 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,”  Shirazi said. “As always, we tell people to stop smoking and to moderate their use of alcohol. These healthy steps could save your life.”

Centegra Health System is recognized as being 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, with state-of-the-art equipment and practices, the Centegra Sage Cancer Center is staffed with a team of highly specialized oncology professionals.

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 Physician Care Centers, Centegra Sage Cancer Center, Health Bridge Fitness Centers and the widely anticipated Centegra Hospital–Huntley slated for opening in 2016.

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, find us on Facebook and Twitter or call 877-CENTEGRA (877-236-8347).