Feist-Weiller Cancer Center in Shreveport is hosting a free oral, head and neck cancer screening this month.
The annual screening is now an 18-year tradition at Feist-Weiller. It coincides with April’s head and neck cancer awareness week, according to Dr. Vikas Mehta, an assistant professor of otolaryngology at LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport and director of head and neck robotic surgery at Feist-Weiller Cancer Center.
“It’s just a quick 10- to 15-minute exam. It’s done by faculty in the otolaryngology department, as well as residents and medical students,” Mehta said. “It’s very noninvasive. We just kind of check you out. We also look for skin cancers on the head and neck.”
65-year-old Donny Barnes of Bossier City is a throat cancer survivor. He says people should take advantage of this exam and not ignore questionable lumps or lesions.
“I simply thought I had a peanut lodged in my throat,” Barnes said. “I’m one of those guys who will put stuff off. I just will not go to the doctor until I have to.”
Mehta performed robotic surgery on Barnes in Dec. 2012. It was followed up with radiation and chemotherapy. Mehta says robotic surgery is the latest advancement in removing tissue in the back of the throat where a surgeon’s hands can’t reach. Mehta can maneuver small instruments as if they were his own hands.
“Before, to access those areas, we had to make a big hole through the neck and that had a lot of consequences with feeding tubes, swallowing problems and tracheotomies. Now, we’re able to access everything through the mouth in a kind of minimally invasive way,” Mehta said.
While alcohol and tobacco are major risk factors, Mehta sees an unsettling trend of oral cancers stemming from the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The screenings are set for Friday, April 25, from 8 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. at Feist-Weiller. A second screening will be held at the Barksdale Air Force Base Air Show on Saturday, April 26, from 9 - 11 a.m.