VCU Massey Cancer Center to offer free head and neck cancer screenings
It’s been almost twenty years since 48-year-old Midlothian resident Tim Sanderson was diagnosed with a tumor in one of his salivary glands. After experiencing cancer at such a young age, Sanderson is now encouraging others to take advantage of a free head and neck cancer screening event being held at VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Dalton Oncology Clinic in downtown Richmond on April 16 from 1-4 p.m.
“If you have any kind of symptom, even if you don’t think it’s serious, it’s best to get it checked out,” says Sanderson. “My physician originally thought I had a cyst. It wasn’t until he went to remove it that he discovered it was cancer and referred me to Massey Cancer Center for surgery.”
Head and neck cancers include cancers of the mouth, throat, tonsils, nasal cavity, sinuses and salivary glands. There are an estimated 12,000 deaths caused by head and neck cancers in the United States annually. However, most head and neck cancers can be cured if detected and treated early, which is why Massey Cancer Center is encouraging the community to take advantage of this free screening event. The screening only takes about 15 minutes and involves a simple oral exam by a health care professional.
“Tobacco use and alcohol consumption are two of the primary risk factors for head and neck cancers,” says Laurence DiNardo, M.D., F.A.C.S., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology and director of head and neck surgery at VCU Massey Cancer Center. “We especially encourage smokers and drinkers and anyone with a family history of head and neck cancers to get screened. However, anyone who experiences symptoms should get checked out.”
Typical symptoms of head and neck cancers include a lump or sore (for example, in the mouth) that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing and a change or hoarseness in the voice. Additionally, research indicates that exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV) is associated with a higher risk of developing throat cancer.
“We are seeing an increase in HPV related cancers in younger patients with no tobacco or alcohol history,” says DiNardo. “The symptoms typically include a mass on the tonsils, the base of the tongue and/or the neck.”
Because Sanderson’s tumor was discovered before it had spread, he did not require additional treatments after surgery.
“It took a while, but eventually my wound healed and I was able to recover thanks to the care I received and tremendous support from my friends and family,” says Sanderson.
VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Dalton Oncology clinic is located at 1300 E. Marshall Street in downtown Richmond. Free valet parking will be provided. Walk-ins are accepted, but appointments are encouraged in order to reduce wait times. Please call (804) 828-5465 to schedule an appointment.