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Published on April 01, 2014

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center to Offer Free Head, Neck and Oral Cancer Screenings

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Ellis Fischel Cancer Center will offer free head, neck and oral cancer screenings for men and women ages 18 and older from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday, April 25, on the second floor of the cancer center located at One Hospital Drive.

Reservations are required to attend the free screening, to make reservations, contact Pam Garfias at or (573) 882-4289. Reservations must be made by April 18.

According to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, more than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed each year with cancer of the head and neck.

The head, neck and oral cancer screening includes a physical examination of the patient's mouth, face and neck by an Ellis Fischel head and neck cancer specialist. The screenings are painless and will take approximately 10 minutes.

"I would encourage every adult - especially tobacco users - to take this time to receive a screening," said Robert Zitsch, M.D., chair of the Department of Otolaryngology and a head and neck surgical oncologist. "It's a decision that could ultimately save your life."

"About eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use," Zitsch said. "The first step in preventing these cancers is to stop using tobacco products."

Zitsch stressed that early detection leads to better outcomes and greatly improves the chance of survival.

"Often the signs and symptoms of oral, head and neck cancers go unnoticed," he said.

Some signs and symptoms that require immediate attention may include: 

  • A sore in your mouth that doesn't heal or increases in size
    Persistent pain in your mouth or jaw
  • Lumps or white, red or dark patches in your mouth
  • Thickening of the inside of your cheek
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue
  • Difficulty moving your jaw or swelling or pain in your jaw
  • Soreness in your throat
  • Pain around your teeth or loosening of your teeth
  • Numbness of your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth
  • Changes in your voice
  • A lump in your neck

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is the first state cancer center built west of the Mississippi. In 2013, all inpatient and outpatient cancer care was consolidated in a new, $50 million Ellis Fischel Cancer Center facility at University Hospital. Today, Ellis Fischel is the only cancer center in the region to provide screening, diagnosis and treatment all under one roof.

Each year Ellis Fischel records nearly 85,000 outpatient visits or procedures. 
Cancer specialists at Ellis Fischel care for patients from nearly every county in the state through inpatient and outpatient services in Columbia, Mo., and extensive outreach efforts throughout the state. In recognition of the services it provides to residents across the state, the Missouri General Assembly designated Ellis Fischel Cancer Center as Missouri's official state cancer center in 2004.