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Storm Team 20 Meteorologist
Free Head and Neck Cancer Screenings Offered in Springfield
Cancer of the head and neck can go undetected. In fact, 50 percent of people who have head and neck cancer have very advanced cases by the time they first see the doctor.
Head and neck cancer isn't a common cancer, but doctors at Simmons Cancer Institute say it's something people should be aware of.
"Head and neck cancer is a cancer that involves the the mouth, the back of the throat area where the tonsils are," head and neck surgeon Dr. Debra Gonzales said. "It can involve the voice box."
Gonzales spends most of her time in the operating room, doing surgery on about five cancer patients a week.
"We see a lot of laryngeal cancer," Gonzalez said. "We see a lot of mouth cancer, and we see a fair bit of thyroid cancer."
Common symptoms of head and neck cancer include lumps in the throat, mouth or neck, a sore raspy throat, spitting up blood, coughing, and trouble swallowing.
Any of these symptoms may be a sign that you need to see your doctor.
"If you're a smoker, if you smoke and drink, if you've had exposure to HPV, then I think it's important to come and be screened and just have a peace of mind."
Gonzales says African-American males also have a higher risk.
There will be free head and neck cancer screenings this month for those with risk factors. The screenings will take place at Simmons Cancer Institute Monday, April 7 and Monday, April 14. They'll be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. both days. Call 217-545-7133 to sign up.