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Michael Douglas, Honored Film Star and Throat Cancer Survivor, Encourages Public to Attend Free Local Screenings During Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week
Date:4/6/2011

NEW YORK, April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Academy Award-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas, who is recovering from a battle with throat cancer, is urging Americans to get screened for cancer during the 14th annual Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), being held nationwide May 8-14 . More than 200 medical centers across the country and the world will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings during OHANCAW, which is sponsored by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA). Information about the free screenings and local sites can be found at www.OHANCAW.com.

According to the American Cancer Society, head and neck cancers represent the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than 50,000 cases diagnosed annually and over 12,000 deaths.

Mr. Douglas, a screen legend who won Academy Awards as Best Actor for his role in the movie Wall Street and as producer of 1975's Best Picture One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, was diagnosed with advanced stage IV throat cancer in August, 2010.  Following several weeks of aggressive radiation and chemotherapy, it was announced in January 2011 that the popular movie and TV star had a "complete response" to treatment in that his tumor is no longer detectable by physical examination or medical imaging. Although he must have monthly check-ups because there is a chance of tumor recurrence, Mr. Douglas is confident of complete recovery.

"My experience has taught me the importance of early detection and diagnosis to successful treatment and a positive outcome," said Mr. Douglas. "I applaud the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance for raising awareness of oral, head and neck cancer and opening the door to free cancer screenings at local facilities throughout our country during OHANCAW.  The screening is quick, painless and free, so I am encouraging everyone to take advantage of this opportunity that could save your life. Do it for your family."

"When oral, head and neck cancers are diagnosed early, these potentially deadly diseases can be more easily treated without significant complications, and the chances of survival increase," said Jatin P. Shah, M.D., Ph.D., a world leader in head and neck cancer surgery who is Professor of Surgery at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Chief of the Head and Neck Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and a member of the HNCA Board. "Many Americans do not recognize the symptoms of these cancers, which underscores the importance of everyone getting screened properly, not just those at high risk such as tobacco and alcohol users."

About Oral, Head and Neck Cancer

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 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.  Eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use.   Research has linked the increase of oral cancer incidence in young adults, a population traditionally at low risk, to the rise of human papillomavirus (HPV), a cancer-causing virus that can be transmitted through oral sex.  

About Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week

Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week (OHANCAW), coordinated by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, is a week annually dedicated to educating the public about these potentially life-threatening but highly treatable cancers, and to promoting prevention, screening and early detection.  

Given the great demand for head and neck cancer screening opportunities and to honor the tradition of holding screenings in April, HNCA is excited to extend its screening promotions from April through May, 2011. Although the climax of the promotions will be held during the 2011 OHANCAW, May 8-14, HNCA is encouraging all supporters to pick a week during April or May that works best for their group to host a free screening event.  For the past four years, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Lilly have provided funding for the free screenings as part of the companies' support of OHANCAW. For more information, please visit the OHANCAW website at www.OHANCAW.com.

About the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance

The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA) 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 expands on existing strengths to enhance the overall effort in prevention, detection, treatment and rehabilitation. Our mission focuses on six key areas:

  • Public awareness
  • Professional engagement
  • Research
  • Advocacy
  • Survivorship
  • Resources development

The 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.  Its mission involves:

  • Providing support to head and neck cancer patients throughout the year
  • Supporting ongoing research in head and neck oncology
  • Educating children and adults in the disease process, treatment and prevention of head and neck cancer

Media Contact:
Meredith Mandato or Jeff Hoyak
MCS Healthcare Public Relations, for the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA)
(800) 477-9626


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SOURCE Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA)
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