Checkup 13: Oral Cancer risk
Anne Marie Tiernon/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - The spotlight for this month's Checkup 13 is on oral cancer. It's rates have increased every year, for the past five years. Specialists say increasingly the patients are younger and are women.
Stacy Brown isn't afraid to show you the section missing from her tongue.
It's where doctors have twice removed cancer.
"The first question is well you smoked right? So I think people don't realize you can get this and not have any reason for it so, it's very easy to ignore until it starts to hurt," said Stacy Brown.
It's a frustration for St Vincent Doctor Tod Huntley who says the cancer is visible and more likely curable long before it's advanced and starts hurting.
So check for sores and scabs on the roof of the mouth, the tongue, even tonsil and lips.
Dr. Huntley says, "Anyone who has a red or a white discolored lesions a superficial ulcer inside the mouth even if painless if it lasts more than three week sit out to be looked at."
Stacy was just 31-years-old at diagnosis. Doctors say oral cancer is expanding it's reach.
"We are seeing an increasing incidence in non smoking non drinking and younger people it 's a changing face of this cancer a big reason for that is HPV. It's been well established in people under 50 HPV is replacing tobacco in all forms as the number one cause of this kind of cancer," explains Dr. Huntley.
Stacy meantime is looking forward to her five year cancer free anniversary and hopes her case inspires you to act.
"If you think there is anything odd going on in your mouth..have it checked out it doesn't take long if it's nothing you have no really wasted anything but you will have peace of mind too," says Stacy.
Eyewitness News is making it easy for you to assess your risk.
As part of Checkup 13 Eyewitness News has partnered with St Vincent to provide you a free oral cancer screening.
You may call and register for an appointment at these five locations in Anderson, Carmel, Indianapolis, Kokomo and Winchester.
Call the hotline at 1-866-u-check13 or 1-866- 824-3251 until 7 pm Sunday night or register online until midnight.