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Wright-Patterson Medical Center offers free head and neck cancer screening

U.S. Air Force doctor (Maj.) Whitney Pafford, Chief, Head and Neck Surgery at Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology, checks a patient for irregularities or signs of cancer. The ENT clinic is hosting a walk-in head and neck cancer screening April 20, 2017 from 9 to 4. The screening for Active-duty military and Tricare beneficiaries will include an exam and information on different types of cancer and their symptoms. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Scott Johnson)

U.S. Air Force doctor (Maj.) Whitney Pafford, Chief, Head and Neck Surgery at Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology, checks a patient for irregularities or signs of cancer. The ENT clinic is hosting a walk-in head and neck cancer screening April 20, 2017 from 9 to 4. The screening for Active-duty military and Tricare beneficiaries will include an exam and information on different types of cancer and their symptoms. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. Scott Johnson)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --  April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, and the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic at Wright-Patterson Medical Center will host a free cancer screening April 20 for active duty, retiree, dependent, or VA ID cardholders. The screening runs 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the clinic, on the second floor of WPMC.

“The screening exam is very quick and we are raising awareness for a type of cancer that is increasing.  Patients can come learn about the signs, symptoms and their individual risk factors,” said Maj. Whitney Pafford, Chief, Head and Neck Surgery at Wright-Patterson Medical Center’s Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic. “Most people think of head and neck cancer as 70 year-old smokers and drinkers, and that’s not really the case. We’re seeing oral cancer in people in their 20s, oral-pharynx cancer in people who have never smoked and never drank.  These cancers are very treatable if caught in the early stages.”

More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with an oral head and neck cancer in the U.S. annually.  Smoking, drinking and genetics are significant risk factors for head and neck cancers, however, most Americans are unaware that a common virus increases their risk as well.  Human Papilloma Virus is a common sexually transmitted disease which infects over 80 million Americans.  Most sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV during their lifetime.  HPV related cancers of the throat are on the rise and their incidence is expected to overtake the incidence of cervical cancer by 2020, according to Pafford.

“The exam takes five minutes,” Pafford said. “Patients will fill out a quick form assessing their risk, have their exam by one of the doctors, get information on head and neck cancer and prevention, and then be on their way.  If a patient has a concern or needs a follow-up, we will set them up with a more detailed exam in the following weeks.  Anyone who is interested should come.  An informed patient is the best way to catch these cancers early and save lives.”

For more information or to reserve a spot call the ENT clinic at 937-522-6800.  Walk-ins are also welcome.