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NFL Pro Football Hall of Famer and Oral Cancer Survivor Jim Kelly Urges Public to Attend Free Local Screenings During Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week®

CHARLESTON, S.C., March 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Jim Kelly, former Buffalo Bills quarterback and an oral cancer survivor, is urging Americans to get screened for cancer during the 19th annual Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®), being held worldwide April 2-9, 2017. More than 325 sites throughout the country and internationally 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.headandneck.org.        

According to the World Health Organization, Oral, Head and Neck Cancers are now the 6th leading cancer by incidence worldwide. With more than 550,000 people diagnosed each year, these cancers have significantly increased in the past 26 years moving up from the 8th cancer worldwide.  In the United States, 132 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each day. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, 70% of oropharyngeal cancers may be associated with HPV.

"With medical and dental facilities around the country taking part in the Annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week and are offering FREE screenings, it's an ideal way to get screened, meet local medical professionals and to learn more," said NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, an oral cancer survivor.  "If you feel like there is something going on and don't quite know, Get Screened!  Find out what it is.  Too many people wait until it's too late.  The key is early diagnosis." 

Diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in 2013, Kelly had a portion of his upper jaw removed. Follow-up tests nine months later showed the cancer in his sinus, which led to radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) has emerged as a leading cause of oropharyngeal (tonsil and base of tongue) cancer, particularly in non-smokers and younger age groups. Over half of tonsil and base of tongue cancers are linked to HPV. Other mouth and throat cancers have been linked to smoking and alcohol use.  However, tongue cancers and other mouth cancers can arise in anyone whether they are smokers or nonsmokers.           

"Promising new research shows that people with oropharyngeal cancer caused by HPV who receive active treatment can survive considerably longer than those who are not treated, even if the disease has spread to other organs in the body," said Terry Day, M.D., Chair, Board of Directors, Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.  "These findings underscore the importance of getting screened and catching the disease early as a majority of diagnoses are not made until after the disease is in an advanced stage, resulting in both limited treatment choices and a more difficult prognosis."

About Oral, Head and Neck Cancers (OHNC) OHNC are common forms of cancers affecting any part of the oral cavity, pharynx, throat, thyroid and larynx (voice box). Regular check-ups can detect the early stages of head and neck cancers or conditions that may lead to it. For those cancers caught at a later stage, treatment is available and may require various combinations of surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy.  More information regarding the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with oral, head and neck cancer can be found at www.headandneck.org.

OHANCA® and Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®). In 2015, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance expanded their Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness® (OHANCA®) program to be an on-going year-long campaign to educate the public about oral, head and neck cancers. Holly Boykin, Executive Director, explained, "the expansion of the program was necessary – cancer diagnoses occur every day and the earlier diagnosis may provide a better outcome." The 19th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week will be held April 2-9, 2017. For more information, please visit www.headandneck.org. If you want to host a screening, please remember that although, April 2-9 is the pinnacle week, we are happy to partner with health facilities throughout the year.

About the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA), is the premiere non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and improving the patient's quality of life via an organized and strategic alliance of all stakeholders. The united and collaborative approach focuses on prevention; early detections; advocacy, patient and clinician resources; advocacy and research. For more information on the organization or to get involved, please visit www.headandneck.org and follow the HNCA on Facebook and Twitter.

Media Contact:
Eileen T. Sexton
Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA)                                        
(703) 340-6212


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