For Hub City Times
MARSHFIELD — For Oral Cancer Awareness Month, Marshfield Clinic is offering free oral cancer screenings and oral cancer vaccinations from 1-5 p.m. on April 21.
To participate in the oral cancer screening call 715-387-5245 or 800-782-8581, ext. 7-5245 to reserve an appointment.
An oral cancer vaccination is available for people ages 11-26. To receive the vaccine, call 715-387-5251 or 800-782-8581, ext. 7-5251. There is a cost for the vaccine. However, the majority of insurances have coverage for it.
What are oral cancer risk factors?
Oral cancer most often is caused by one of two ways.
One way is through the use of tobacco and alcohol, and the other is through exposure to strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is now the leading cause of oral cancers in the United States. HPV is the same virus responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women.
The quickest growing segment of the oral cancer population is young, healthy, nonsmokers due to the connection to this virus.
Oral cancer is not a rare disease. Approximately 49,670 people in the U.S. in 2017 will be diagnosed with oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. An estimated 9,700 people will die of these cancers.
The good news is oral cancer can often be found early through a simple and quick screening. With early detection, survival rates are high, and side effects from treatment are at their lowest.
In addition, a vaccine available to prevent oral cancer caused by HPV is available to both females and males, ages 11-26, in a series of two or three shots.
Who should get screened?
—Adults with a history of smoking or using chewing tobacco and significant alcohol use.
—Adults with a mouth sore that keeps coming back or has not healed within one month.
Who should get the oral cancer vaccine?
—All females and males ages 11-26.
Early symptoms of oral cancer
—Red and/or white discolorations of the soft tissues of the mouth.
—Any sore that does not heal within 14 days.
—Hoarseness that lasts for a prolonged period of time.
—A sensation that something is stuck in your throat.
—Numbness in the oral region.
—Difficulty in moving the jaw or tongue.
—Difficulty in swallowing.
—Ear pain that occurs on one side only.
—A sore under a denture that, even after denture adjustment, does not heal.
—A lump or thickening that develops in the mouth or neck.
“Oral cancer is becoming increasingly common and happening at an earlier age now (more) than ever before, primarily because of HPV,” said Dr. Nathan Schreiber, an otolaryngologist at Marshfield Clinic. “The earlier it’s detected and treated, the better the chance of cure. Thankfully, a vaccine for HPV-related oral cancers is now available but must be given in childhood or early adulthood to be effective.”
Appointments are necessary for this free screening and for vaccination. Walk-in appointments are not accepted.