UT Physicians Otorhinolaryngology Expands Its Annual Head and Neck Cancer Screening from the Texas Medical Center to Houston Suburbs

Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/The University of Texas Medical School at Houston Office of Communications

The Department of Otorhinolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth offered four free cancer screening clinics last April in observance of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, sponsored by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.

“Oral, throat, head and neck cancers claim approximately 14,000 lives each year and are on the rise,” says Kunal Jain, MD, a fellowship-trained head and neck surgeon and an assistant professor in the Department.  “If diagnosed early, these cancers can be treated more easily without significant complications, and the chances of survival greatly increase.”

Oral cancer cases are on the rise in younger adults, due in part to the prevalence of the human papillomavirus (HPV).  HPV-related throat, head and neck cancers are more difficult to detect because these cancers occur on the back of the tongue or on the tonsils, underscoring the importance of screening.

This year, the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at UTHealth extended the annual screening from Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center to the department’s otolaryngology clinics at Memorial Hermann Southeast Hospital, Memorial Hermann Pearland Hospital and Memorial Hermann the Woodlands Medical Center, where 167 people were screened.

“We started the free screening eight years ago,” says Ron Karni, MD, an associate professor who holds joint appointments in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the Division of Medical Oncology at McGovern Medical School.  “The UT Physicians/Memorial Hermann Head and Neck Cancer Program comprises a large team of experts who are dedicated to head and neck cancer patients from diagnosis through survivorship.  A part of our mission is community education and early detection.”