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Public urged to attend free cancer screenings

The Hollings Cancer Center and the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation (YBF) urge everyone to get screened for cancer during the Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), April 21-27. The week is highlighted by a nationwide day of free screenings at more than 100 medical centers Friday, April 25.
Locally, the screenings will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at MUSC ENT Associates, 1280 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Suite 205, Mount Pleasant; Hollings Cancer Center, third floor, Charleston; Rutledge Tower ENT, second floor, Charleston; and MUSC Specialty Care North, 8992 University Blvd., North Charleston; as well as at the Mobile Health Unit in the Horseshoe on Ashley Avenue.
For all location information and to schedule an appointment, call 792-1414. To find a screening site, visit
According to the American Cancer Society, this year more than 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck, which include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx. At least 7,550 will die from these cancers.
When diagnosed very early, oral and other head and neck cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase, said Amanda Hollinger, OHANCAW coordinator. However, many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these cancers. This makes screening very important, especially for those who are at high risk, such as tobacco and alcohol users.
The rate of these cancers has declined since 2005, when at least 65,000 were expected to be diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancer. Two years ago, the American Cancer Society predicted that at least 12,500 people would succumb to OHNC. The decline is likely due to public awareness and improved lifestyles. Survival can be linked to early detection and treatment options. Even still, the incidence of some of these cancers in young adults has increased, regardless of whether they smoke, and some researchers have revealed an association with human papillomavirus.
The rate of cancer in South Carolina is higher than in most states.

About OHNC
Oral, head and neck cancer refers to a variety of cancers that develop in the head and neck region, such as the oral cavity (mouth), the pharynx (throat), paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity; 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 of OHNC 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 and difficulty breathing.
The most effective prevention strategy remains the cessation of risky behaviors such as smoking, use of chewing tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. More than 85 percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use, while others may have a relationship to viral causes such as human papillomavirus and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV).
Treatment of OHNC varies depending upon the extent of disease at the initial diagnosis. Most patient's symptoms are managed with surgery, but radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may also be utilized. After undergoing radiation, some patients may develop a complication called xerostomia, or dry mouth, which is caused by damage to their salivary glands. Xerostomia, a common side effect of radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, can be life-long in duration and affect one’s ability to taste, swallow and even speak.
Surgery can leave patients with scarring and disfigurement of the face and neck, as well as alterations in speech, sight, smell, chewing, swallowing and taste perception. Recent advances in reconstructive surgery have minimized some of these problems.

Cookbook for patients with cancer
George Chajewski, head chef of MUSC catering, created a simple, step-by-step cookbook filled with recipes suitable for various stages of recovery for cancer patients. Proceeds from the sale of the book help support YBF. These are available for purchase at the Looking Glass at Hollings Cancer Center.  
Chajewski is a survivor of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. He will be preparing a special meal during the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation Survivors Banquet, April 25 at the Church of the Holy Communion, 218 Ashley Ave. This is complimentary to survivors; all others $35. Those interested in attending should call 792-6624.

About the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation
The mission of the YBF is to provide support to head and neck cancer patients throughout the year; educate children and adults about the disease process, treatment, and prevention of head and neck cancer, and support ongoing research in head and neck oncology. The foundation was established by the late, award-winning actor Yul Brynner, after he was successfully treated for a pre-malignant growth on his voice box.
For more information, call 792-6624 or visit


Friday, April 4, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.