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MUSCMedical LinksCharleston LinksArchivesCatalyst AdvertisersSeminars and EventsResearch StudiesPublic RelationsResearch GrantsMUSC home pageCommunity HappeningsCampus NewsApplause


Free oral, throat cancer screenings offered

To further stem the rate of oral, head and neck cancers (OHNC), free screenings will be offered to the public at 100 medical centers nationwide, including the Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) and the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (NCA) (formerly the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Foundation) as part of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week April 27 – May 3.

Free screening
--10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 29, Room 102, Colbert Education Center. (Vendors will be selling food from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Horseshoe.)
--9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 1, HCC, third floor
--Ralph H. Johnson VAMC (for veterans only)
--MUSC Specialty Care North, second floor, 8992 University Blvd., North Charleston
--Mobile Health Unit at the intersection of King and Calhoun streets
--Charleston County Public Library, 68 Calhoun St.
To schedule an appointment, call 792-1414. To find a screening site, visit

Prevention is working
Though the rate of oral, head and neck cancers has declined significantly during the past decade, more than 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with these cancers, which include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx this year; and 7,550 will die of the disease this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
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.
Recognizing symptoms and taking advantage of screenings are very important for high risk individuals, especially those who use tobacco products and are heavy alcohol consumers.
OHNC 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
--Red or white patch in the mouth that lasts more than two weeks
--Change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks
--Persistent sore throat
--Persistent pain or swelling in the mouth or neck
--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 risk behaviors such as smoking, 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.
Treatment of OHNC varies depending upon the extent of disease at the initial diagnosis. Most patients are managed with surgery, but radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy may also be utilized.

Easier to swallow
A survivor of squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth, which impairs tasting food and swallowing, George Chajewski turned attention to helping others regain the joy of eating through his mastery as MUSC’s chief chef, and one who has had to adjust to life-altering OHN cancer surgery.
Chajewski has created a simple, step-by-step cookbook that is filled with recipes suitable for various stages of recovery for cancer patients. Proceeds from the sale of the book, available at HCC’s Looking Glass shop, helps support the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.
Chajewski will be preparing a special meal during the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation Survivors Banquet from 6 to 10 p.m., May 1, at the Church of the Holy Communion, 218 Ashley Ave.
The meal is complimentary to OHN cancer survivors and $35 for others. Call 792-6624 for information.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The 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.