More than 90 people attended a free oral, head and neck cancer screening hosted by the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center on Wednesday.

The free event was part of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week.

About 65,000 new oral, head and neck cancer diagnoses will be made this year in the United States, with nearly 14,600 deaths, according to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. In Mississippi, 560 new cases of oral cavity and pharynx cancer have been estimated for this year, with 130 deaths. Tobacco and alcohol use are strong risk factors for these cancers.

Researchers have also correlated to rising incidence of head and neck cancer in young adults to the human papillomavirus (HPV), a potentially cancer-causing virus that can be transmitted through oral sex. Early detection of and diagnosis is vital for successful cancer treatment. 

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Eric J. Shelton was a 2018 corps member in Report for America, and joined the team as our first photojournalist. A native of Columbia, Miss., Eric earned his bachelor’s in photojournalism from the University of Southern Mississippi. He was a multimedia journalist for Abilene Reporter-News, chief photographer for the Hattiesburg American and photo editor for the Killeen Daily Herald before joining our team June 2018. He rejoined Mississippi Today as our health photojournalist in January 2022.