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News : Health Apr 5, 2010 - 12:56 PM

Yale-New Haven Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital offer free head and neck cancer screening April 16

By Yale-New Haven Hospital

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Yale-New Haven Hospital and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven will hold a free public screening for head and neck cancers on Friday, April 16, from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., in the East Pavilion special events area at YNHH. The fifth annual screening, called "Check up from the neck up," is a simple, five-minute exam that can save lives.

Former YNHH patient and oral cancer survivor Colleen Zenk Pinter, who portrayed fashionista-turned-criminal Barbara Ryan on the daytime drama As the World Turns on CBS, will appear at the screening to speak about the importance of early detection and screenings. Zenk Pinter was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2007 and through a series of four surgeries and brachytherapy radiation, her Stage II cancer was treated and is currently in complete remission.

More than 500,000 Americans each year are diagnosed with head and neck cancer, which can attack the nose, sinuses, mouth, ears, throat, larynx, thyroid, saliva glands and lymph nodes in the neck. Fifty percent of those diagnosed die within five years, making early detection essential.

Clarence Sasaki, MD, chief of otolaryngology at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the Charles W. Ohse Professor of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine, urges people who have a history of these symptoms to be screened:

. Family or personal history of smoking

. Sore throat that persists for more than six weeks

. Hoarseness lasting longer than three weeks

. Presence of blood in their saliva or sputum

. Persistent ear pain

"Although the number of people who develop head and neck cancers is only 3 percent of all new cancers diagnosed in the US, these diseases can be devastating," said Dr. Sasaki. "This screening is a great way to get a very quick, basic exam by an ENT physician."

To register for the free screening, please call 203-688-2000; walk-ins are welcome

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