The Kaiserslautern Military Community is invited to get a free head and neck cancer screening April 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Ramstein KMCC Food Court or in the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, 12C on the 2nd floor of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. No appointment is needed, simply walk in.

The screening is fast, usually less than five minutes, and the LRMC ENT team will also share information about head and neck cancer and how to prevent this a rapidly increasing disease that is affecting people of all ages. If a patient has something concerning or needs a follow-up appointment that will be arranged if they are able to be seen at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

More than 110,000 people are diagnosed with an oral, head, and neck cancer in the United States each year. Smoking, drinking and genetics are significant risk factors for head and neck cancers, however most Americans are unaware that a common virus increases their risk as well.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted disease which currently infects nearly half of American adults, but virtually all sexually active men and women will get HPV during their lifetime. Many will never know they have been exposed. HPV-related cancers of the throat are on the rise and their incidence is expected to overtake the incidence of cervical cancer by 2020.

"It's no longer mostly older patients who are long term smokers and drinkers who get diagnosed with head and neck cancer," said Maj. Whitney Pafford, 86th Medical Group, Otolaryngologist at LRMC ENT Clinic. "We are seeing head and neck cancer in people in their 20s and 30s who haven't smoked a day in their life. More importantly these are the patients whose diagnosis gets missed or who end up with a delay in diagnosis because people often do not think it is cancer."

Pafford explained that these cancers are very treatable if caught in the early stages. "An informed patient is the best way to catch these cancers early and save lives," she said.