For the third year in a row, the Walgreen's parking lot served as a mini health fair for those willing to come out. The free event featured oral cancer screenings in 2010 and 2011 and added a simple PSA blood test this year for men.
125 people received oral cancer screenings. Of that group, 10 received referrals to seek additional medical attention. 38 men took part in the free PSA blood draw, which officials said was fantastic.
Gulfport resident David Hastings started the free oral cancer screenings in 2010 in order to help people detect cancer before it's too late. Hastings is a cancer survivor and Senior Patient Advocate of the Oral Cancer Foundation. He has been cancer free for about six years and says he owes his life to his wife and her persistence in getting him to seek medical help.
According to the American Cancer Society there are 2 kinds of oral cancer: oral cavity cancer and oropharnygeal cancer. According to the Oral Cancer Guide by the American Cancer Society, "The most common symptom of oral cancer is a sore in the mouth that bleeds easily and does not heal. Another common sign of oral cancer is pain in the mouth that does not go away.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Trouble chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue or jaw
Hastings said the only symptom he had was a lump in his throat. He didn't have any pain before he ultimately was diagnosed with stage four oral cancer. Hastings says screenings like this can save a life.
Organizers added a new test this year to help detect prostate cancer. The simple prostate (PSA) blood test measures the level of PSA in the blood.
According to the National Cancer Institute "the higher a man's PSA level, the more likely it is that cancer is present, but there are other possible reasons for an elevated PSA level." Learn more in the National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet.