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Free cancer screening day to mark Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Month

Get a check of your head and neck at the student-run Shifa Clinic on April 13


April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month and free cancer screenings are being held across the country, including at UC Davis Health. In collaboration with the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance, the Department of Otolaryngology and the student-run Shifa Clinic will offer a community-based free head and neck cancer screening day. It will be on Saturday, April 13 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Head and neck cancer are types of tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx (voice box), nose, sinuses, or mouth. It is more common in men than women. The American Association for Cancer Research estimates this year more than 66,000 Americans will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer, which makes up about 4% of all cancers in the U.S.

“This is a devastating disease but knowing the signs and symptoms to report can lead to earlier diagnosis, better outcomes and overall survival,” said Beverly Garber, organizer of the free screening day and a UC Davis Health otolaryngology nurse practitioner. “Knowing how to detect and prevent this cancer is critically important. We hope to save lives by holding the free screening day and plan to make it an annual event going forward.”

Insured and uninsured people can participate. Walk-ins are welcome, but people are encouraged to register online for the screening, which will be at the Shifa Clinic, 413 V Street in Sacramento.

Participants will have a clothed physical exam of the head, face, ears, mouth and neck. UC Davis medical students, under supervision of medical staff, will perform the exams and also ask participants questions related to risk factors, symptoms and medical history.

Head & Neck Cancer

Risk factors:

Symptoms include:

  • difficulty swallowing
  • persistent lump in neck or mouth sore
  • persistent sore throat
  • hoarseness or voice changes

Bottled water and dental care kits will be given to participants. UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement and Sacramento County Public Health educators will host information tables. Tobacco cessation resources and support will be available. There will also be information on how to receive free HPV vaccines. The CDC estimates 70% of all cancers of the throat (including tongue and tonsils) are due to HPV.

About the Shifa Clinic

The Shifa Clinic is one of the largest student-run clinics affiliated with the UC Davis School of Medicine that provides free primary care to the community in Sacramento. It was founded in 1994 and strives to provide comprehensive medical care, serving more than 6,000 people since its inception. Of note, Sacramento is home to one of the largest Afghan populations in the country and Shifa serves many of these individuals with interpreters and culturally competent providers.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 100,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 200 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 240 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit