Free oral cancer screening offered

There are two places under the tongue to check for any sign of mouth cancer. You're looking for sores or lesions that last for more than two weeks. But doctors say often these first signs are ignored.

"It may be something that they notice if it's a male while shaving, you see a lump," says Dr. Rui Fernandes, with University of Flordia College of Medicine-Jacksonville.

Fernandes says by then it's late because a lump means it's metastasize, spreading to another part of the body.  Nearly 50 percent of oral cancers are diagnosed after first stage and by then your chances of survival go from 85 to 90 percent down to 20 percent.

"The first thing we're going to do is a neck exam and we're feeling for any lumps or bumps," says Fernandes.

He says a simple screening can easily save a life.  Your  dentist or primary care doctor can do the check.  In fact, they might be doing it and you don't even know it, but you should.

"By knowing about it then people are going to start asking the right questions am I at risk and if I am I need to go get it checked as well," says Fernandes.

This week is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.  And while oral cancer used to be associated with older adults who drink or smoke, there's a new trend.

"The population is younger, healthier and many have HPV, the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease that affects 50 percent of people who've had sex," says Fernandes. "That's one of the important things is that the oral cancer awareness just reminds that we should all have screenings."

The quick and painless screening could save your life, and help you breath a sigh of relief.

UF and Shands Jacksonville is holding a free oral cancer screening this weekend.  It's in the learning resource center auditorium from 11am-2pm on Monday, April 30th.   For more information call 904-244-3498 or email

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