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Characteristics of participants in a free oral, head and neck cancer screening program

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Abstract

Objective:

Early detection of head and neck cancer is associated with improved survival. It is unclear if screening programs successfully target high-risk populations. We sought to determine the characteristics of participants presenting for a free oral, head and neck cancer screening.

Materials and Methods:

Prospective analysis of 89 participants in a one-day, free oral, head, and neck cancer screening.

Results:

The majority of participants were female (57%) and not tobacco users (71%) with a mean age of 56 years (range, 23–83). Symptoms associated with head and neck cancer were reported by 59 participants (66%), but only 31 (35%) were aware of an association between symptoms and head and neck cancer. There was no correlation between symptom prevalence and exam findings (r = 0.1161). Ten participants (11%) had findings concerning for neoplasia and were referred for immediate consultation. Demographically, 64 (72%) of participants had attended college and 51 (57%) earned an annual income greater then $30,000. The majority of participants (85%) believed that screening increased their awareness and knowledge of oral and head and neck cancer.

Conclusions:

Free oral, head and neck cancer screenings increase awareness of oral and head and neck cancer and identify a subset of individuals requiring further evaluation. However, participants do not share characteristics of the population at greatest risk for the development of head and neck cancer based on risk factors and socioeconomic status. These findings suggest that early detection efforts need to be designed to target high-risk populations. Laryngoscope, 2009

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