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Michael Schug
IU School of Medicine

Last modified: Thursday, July 9, 2009

IU and Head and Neck Cancer Alliance to provide screenings at Allstate 400

July 9, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- Race fans at this year's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard can get a free oral, head and neck cancer screening.

Volunteers from the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, and the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance will provide the screenings.

The screenings, which are quick and painless and involve a physical examination of the mouth as well as feeling of the facial area and neck for abnormalities, are offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 25, and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, July 26. The screenings will be offered in the display lot on the east side of the Hall of Fame Museum to race ticket holders.

If any irregularities are found, a person will be referred to his or her primary care physician or a specialist.

"When diagnosed very early, oral and other head and neck cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase," said Michael G. Moore, M.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery with the IU School of Medicine. "Many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these cancers, so an additional benefit of these screenings is that they allow us to educate a larger audience about head and neck cancer."

According to the American Cancer Society, this year more than 87,560 people will be diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck, which include cancers of the tongue, the rest of the mouth, the salivary glands and inside the throat, the voice box, eye and orbit, thyroid and the lymph nodes in the upper neck. More than 13,000 will die.

Oral, head and neck cancer refers to a variety of cancers that develop in the head and neck region, such as the oral cavity (mouth); the pharynx (throat); paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity; the larynx (voice box); thyroid and salivary glands; the skin of the face and neck; and the lymph nodes in the neck. Common warning signs are:

  • Red or white patch in the mouth that lasts more than two weeks
  • Change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks
  • Sore throat that does not subside
  • Pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not subside
  • Lump in the neck

Other warning signs that can occur during later stages of the disease include:

  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

The most effective prevention strategy remains the cessation of risky behaviors such as smoking, use of chewing tobacco, and excessive alcohol consumption. More than 85 percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use, while others may have a relationship to viral causes such as human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and Epstein-Barr virus.

Lori Hamilton, wife of the late NASCAR racing legend Bobby Hamilton who died of complications of head and neck cancer, is the national spokesperson for this effort.

"When Bobby was diagnosed, he immediately became an advocate of early detection of head and neck cancer," Hamilton said. "He asked everyone around him to get tested, promoted it to anyone who would listen and became a huge believer in the screening process. It doesn't hurt, is free and the 10 minutes it takes to do it could save your life. So we are encouraging everyone to please take advantage of this free screening opportunity."

Funding is provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb and ImClone Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly & Co.

About the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance
The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance was established in 2008 to create a coalition in the fight against head and neck cancer. Formerly the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, HNCA seeks to enable an organized and strategic alliance of all stakeholders to dramatically shift the stage of discovery of head and neck cancers through united and collaborative efforts in prevention, early detection and research. Each year, HNCA sponsors Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week in April to educate the public about these potentially life-threatening, but eminently treatable, cancers, and to promote prevention, screening and early detection. For more information, please visit the OHANCAW Web site at