Oral Cancer Screening Program
|Individuals Screened to Date: 700|
Oral cancer and head and neck cancers can be devastating. Due to the high incidence of tobacco use and HIV, Louisiana experiences an increased prevalance of these particular cancers. The traditional cause of head and neck cancers was tobacco and a synergistic effect with alcohol. However, a new etiological agent – the Human Papilloma Virus -- is causing cancers of the tonsil and tongue in epidemic proportions, leading to an increase in cancer diagnoses in younger individuals.
Head and neck cancers are not well known or advertised. However, throat cancers can be life changing. The cancer and its treatment can effect how patients communicate with people, express themselves and experience the world. Taste, smell, speech, swallowing, breathing, and appearance can be morbidly affected by the disease or the extent of treatment.
Identification of oral and head neck cancer at an early stage can positively affect quality of life, as these cancers can often be managed with smaller operations or single modality treatment, such as surgery or radiation. Overall, patients recover from these treatments more quickly and see a higher rate of success.
In our practice, 60-70% of patients have advanced tumors on their initial visit. The goal of the cancer screening program is to “flip this cancer” in terms of its percentage of presentation. With education and awareness, we can ensure early detection and early referrals, allowing us to identify these cancers at an early stage.