|April 23, 2012|
By Katelyn Gendron
GREATER SPRINGFIELD Preventing oral cancer, as with any other, requires decreasing one's risk factors; in other words, it's not rocket science, according to Michael Spink, DDS, MS, FACS.
Spink, an oral maxillofacial surgeon at Facial Cosmetic & Maxillofacial Surgery, P.C., in East Longmeadow, is one of the many doctors drawing attention to the 15th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, April 22 to 28. Baystate Medical Center is also encouraging those in the region to take preventative steps by offering free oral, head and neck cancer screenings at the D'Amour Center for Cancer Care, 3350 Main St., Springfield, on April 25 from 2 to 6 p.m.
"People should start by decreasing their risk factors, which include smoking, drinking alcohol and all tobacco products in general," Spink said, noting that keeping regular doctor and dental visits are imperative, as well as being cognizant of any ulcers or masses in the head, neck or mouth.
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 52,610 new cases of head and neck cancers will be diagnosed in 2012 with an estimated 11,500 of those cases resulting in death.
Spink explained that surgical procedures are most often a last resort, but sometimes a necessary one, when trying to eradicate cancer.
"I don't want to cut on people who don't need it," he said, adding that if surgery is necessary he uses Computerized Axial Tomography to create a "virtual template for surgery that decreases the number of incisions and operation time for an optimal result."
According to the American Cancer Society, signs of oral, head and neck cancer include a sore in the mouth that doesn't heal or that increases in size; persistent pain in the mouth; lumps or white or red patches inside the mouth; difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving the tongue; soreness in the throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat; changes in the voice; or a lump in the neck.
To register for an appointment during the free oral, head and neck cancer screenings at the D'Amour Center for Cancer Care, call Baystate Health Link at 794-2255 or outside the Springfield calling area, call 800-377-4325.
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