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MedWatch-Oral, head and neck cancer

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -More than 48,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancer this year.

A simple screening to help detect the cancers early is being offered in Southwest Oklahoma. This will be the third year the screenings are being offered at the Cancer Center of Southwest Oklahoma. The screening is simple; a doctor will feel the neck, lymph nodes and thyroid. Then they will look in the mouth to see if there are any lesions or areas of concern and ask you questions about possible symptoms.

Dr. Stephen Snell says at last year’s screening, several people were diagnosed with tongue and thyroid cancer.

"I think those people that we found are doing very well post treatment. They were happy they came because it has got them treated and improved their longevity," Dr. Snell said.

Dr. Snell says realistically, any age adult is at risk for developing these cancers, so it's important to get checked.

"The adults and older people tend to have higher instances of head and neck cancer. Ladies in their 20s/30s have potentially more thyroid problems and potential thyroid cancers," Dr. Snell said.

Some signs and symptoms you can look for are a painful lesion in the mouth or throat that doesn't go away. Your lymph nodes in the neck may be tender or there may be a mass or a knot on one side of the neck. Dr. Snell says there are several ways oral, head and neck cancer are treated.

"It's not just surgery, it's a combination of surgery, possible radiation, possible chemotherapy. One of alone. So it's a team approach," Dr. Snell said.

Dr. Snell says there is a way decrease your chances of getting the disease.

"Head and neck cancer for the most part has a high association with both smoking and heavy alcohol consumption. And both together greatly increases the risk for head and neck cancer," Dr. Snell said.

April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month and the Cancer Center is having the ‘Just say ahh’ screenings on Saturday, April 16, from 8 am until noon at the Leah M. Fitch Cancer Center in Lawton. For more information or to make an appointment, call 580-250-6565.

Wednesday is National Doctors' Day and Comanche County Memorial Hospital appreciates and wants to thank all of their doctors for the service they provide.

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