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Lori Hamilton, Wife of NASCAR Legend Bobby Hamilton, Urges Public to Attend Free Cancer Screenings During Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW)

Free oral cancer screenings also being held at select NASCAR races this year

CHARLESTON, S.C., April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- For the second year in a row, Lori Hamilton, wife of late NASCAR racing legend Bobby Hamilton, is urging Americans to get screened for cancer during the 2009 Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), being held nationwide April 27 - May 3. In addition to the more than 150 sites nationwide that annually offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings during OHANCAW, screenings also are being offered at select NASCAR races this year, including the Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2009. Further information about the free screenings can be found at

According to the American Cancer Society, last year an estimated 35,300 Americans were diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck -- which include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx -- and about 7,600 died from the disease. Bobby Hamilton, the 2004 Craftsman Truck Series champion and four-time winner of the Cup series, died in January of 2007 at the age of 49 from complications of head and neck cancer.

"Bobby's diagnosis hit us hard out of left field. After learning so much about the disease we became huge advocates of early detection and real believers in the screening process," said Lori Hamilton. "It is my honor to continue this effort in his name because we've made so much progress with past years' screenings. Bobby would want us to press forward to reach more people with our message. The screening is quick, painless and free, so we are encouraging everyone to take advantage of this opportunity that could save your life."

"When diagnosed early, oral and other head and neck cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival increase," said Terry Day, MD, President of the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA - formerly the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation). "However, many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these cancers, which reinforces the importance of getting screened properly, and not just for those who are at high risk such as tobacco and alcohol users."

Oropharyngeal cancer -- cancer of the tonsil or base of the tongue -- is on the rise in populations normally considered to be at low risk, including young adults who don't smoke. Researchers have attributed this development partly to the increase of the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which can be transmitted by oral sex. Writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers from the National Cancer Institute and the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions concluded that potentially HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers increased in the U.S. from 1973 to 2004, perhaps as a result of changing sexual behaviors.

For more information about OHANCAW, the free screenings and other activities, visit

About Oral, Head & Neck Cancer

Oral, head & neck cancer (OHNC) 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 of OHNC 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 occur during later stages of the disease include:

  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

The most effective prevention strategy continues to be the cessation of 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 HPV and Epstein-Barr Virus.

About Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week

Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), coordinated by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, formerly the Yul Brynner Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, is a week in April annually dedicated to educating the public about these potentially life-threatening but highly treatable cancers, and to promoting prevention, screening and early detection. For more information, please visit the OHANCAW website at

Funding for the OHANCAW free screenings was provided by Bristol-Myers Squibb and ImClone Systems, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company.

    Media Contact: 
    Jennifer McGuire or Alanna Jamieson
    MCS Healthcare Public Relations on behalf of the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA)
    (800) 477-9626

SOURCE Head and Neck Cancer Alliance
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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