Free oral cancer screenings being offered at Sanford

FARGO, N.D. -- Sanford’s Ear, Nose and Throat department will offer free screenings for oral, head and neck cancer from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on March 7 at the Sanford Broadway Clinic, 737 N. Broadway.

Appointments for the free screening must be made in advance by calling (701) 234-2441.

The screening is painless and takes about 10 minutes.

Limited appointments are available. People do not need to be a current Sanford Health patient to schedule a free screening.

The signs and symptoms of oral cancer often go unnoticed. However, there are a few signs associated with these cancers that require immediate attention, including:

• Red or white patches in the mouth that do not heal
• Sore or swelling in the mouth that does not go away
• Change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than four weeks
• Sore throat that lasts longer than four weeks
• Weight loss from throat pain
• Pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not get better
• Lump in the neck

The most common causes of cancer of the mouth, throat and voice box are the use of tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco or snuff) and alcohol.

In adults who do not smoke or drink, cancer of the throat can occur because of infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). As part of the screening, tobacco cessation specialists will offer a free consultation to tobacco users.

Early diagnosis is important to treating these cancers without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.