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April 24, 2014 

HHC’s Elmhurst Hospital Center Offers Free Screening for Oral, Head and Neck Cancer

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Elmhurst, NY –  New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s Elmhurst Hospital Center (EHC) will host its annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer screenings on April 24th from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM at EHC’s Community Medical Center (H-Building), 2nd Floor, Room H2-82. Screenings are for adults 18 and older, and will include a complete head and neck examination. If something of concern is found during the screening, the patient will be scheduled for an immediate follow-up appointment in the hospital’s Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic.

“In association with the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, we are sponsoring events during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week to educate our community about associated risks and the importance of early detection through screenings,” said Benjamin Malkin, M.D., Regional Director of the Department of Otolaryngology for the Queens Health Network, which administers programs at HHC’s Elmhurst and Queens Hospital Centers. “Fifty percent of people with head and neck cancers have advanced cases by the time they first see a doctor. The goal of our screening event is to identify anyone with concerning findings and make a diagnosis as early as possible, while the disease is still easily curable.”

Major risk factors for oral, head and neck cancer include alcohol and tobacco use (including smokeless tobacco). In the United States, more than 100,000 cases of oral, head and neck cancer are diagnosed every year and it is the 6th most common form of cancer in the world. 

“Many people do not understand how the cancer manifests itself, what causes it, and how it is diagnosed. People who use tobacco or alcohol are at greater risk for developing these cancers, and people who use both are at even greater risk,” explains Dr. Malkin. “Also, over the past 10 years, an increasing number of young, non-smokers have developed throat cancer associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV). Other types of cancer of the head and neck – such as thyroid and skin cancers - have different risk factors, which include a history of radiation and excessive exposure to sunlight.”

Oral, head and neck cancer can affect the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid gland, salivary glands, throat, or larynx (voice box). Signs and symptoms may include: a mouth sore that doesn’t heal or increases in size; persistent mouth pain, lumps or white or red patches inside the mouth; difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue; difficulty moving the jaw; changes in voice; or a lump in the neck. If something of concern has been detected during a screening next steps may include a biopsy, radiologic imaging and a discussion about treatment options.

To reduce the risk of oral, head and neck cancer, healthcare professionals recommend that individuals quit smoking and limit alcohol intake. Anyone who is concerned about the possibility of having a problem because he/she has symptoms or is at higher risk for the disease should see his or her doctor for a consultation. Those who have been treated for a head and neck cancer in the past are at significantly increased risk for new cancers and should see their doctor annually.

For more information about the EHC’s oral, head and neck screening event, please call Betty Suarez at (718) 334-2965.


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