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Free oral, head and neck cancer screenings offered on April 14

SPRINGFIELD More than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck every year. Many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these life-threatening diseases and for some, by the time they are diagnosed, it's too late. Fortunately, with early detection the disease is preventable and treatable. A free oral, head and neck cancer screening will take place on April 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the D'Amour Center for Cancer Care, 3350 Main St., Springfield in support of National Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, April 12 through 18. The event is sponsored by the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, the Massachusetts Society of Otolaryngology, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, and Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons of Western New England. Screenings are available by appointment. To register for an appointment, call Baystate HealthLink at 794-2255. In recent years, head and neck cancer has robbed famed film critic Roger Ebert of his voice and much of his lower jaw and George Karl, head coach of the NBA's Denver Nuggets, recently announced that he has a form of the disease. Some of the common symptoms of head and neck cancer include a sore throat that does not heal or go away, difficulty swallowing and a change or hoarseness in the voice. "As physicians, we need to educate the public about head and neck cancer and encourage them to get regular checkups and to eliminate high-risk habits like smoking," Dr. Barry Jacobs of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons of Western New England said Early detection is the most significant factor in a cancer patient's chances for recovery. For more information on the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, or for a referral to an oncologist, call the Baystate Regional Cancer Program at 794-BRCP.

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