LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

Oral Cancer Screening Finds Abnormalities

oral cancer screening

A free oral cancer screening conducted by LSU Health New Orleans faculty, residents and students found abnormalities in about 20% of the participants. The screening at Perino’s Home and Garden Center on May 20, 2017, was the latest in a series of outreach events to find oral cancers early.

According to the National Cancer Institute, less than a third of cancers in the mouth and throat are diagnosed at the local stage when the 5-year survival rate is about 84%. LSU Health New Orleans head and neck surgeon Dr. Rohan Walvekar, wants to change that.

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“In our practice, 60-70% of patients have advanced tumors on their initial visit,” says Dr. Walvekar. “The goal of the cancer screening program is to ‘flip this cancer’ in terms of its percentage of presentation. With education and awareness, we can ensure early detection and early referrals, allowing us to identify these cancers at an early stage.”

Walvekar wants people to know more about these cancers. At advanced stages, they can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, affecting taste, smell, speech, swallowing, breathing, and appearance.

oral cancer screening at Perino's
Risk factors include tobacco use (including smokeless tobacco), alcohol use, HPV, a family history and excessive exposure to radiation. Early signs and symptoms include a red or white spot in your mouth that doesn't heal or that increases in size, sore throat or swollen tonsil, changes in your voice, a lump in your neck, earache or difficulty swallowing. Walvekar urges people with risk factors to talk with their doctors, and says that’s even more important for those with symptoms.
oral cancer screening
The LSU Health team referred the people identified at the screening who needed further evaluation.

The sentiments expressed by LSU Health’s Alison Kern sum up how rewarding this community service can be. “Wow! What a successful community event. These patients may have waited a considerable amount of time before seeking help, and now we will be able to get them the care they need. Awesome!!!”