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ENT specialists reach out to community with cancer screenings

Written By: Melissa McDonald, UT Physicians | Updated: April 17, 2018
Frances Stites participated in the no-cost oral, head and neck cancer screenings on April 13. Ron J. Karni, M.D., started the screenings eight years ago.

Ron J. Karni, MD, provides a cancer screening that only takes about 10 minutes.

One-by-one people registered for the no-cost oral, head and neck cancer screenings offered by UT Physicians ENT specialists. All unique stories, but with one single question on their minds—is it cancer?

Iddly Roman is examined by Ron. J. Karni, M.D.
Iddly Roman was screened by Ron. J. Karni, M.D. on April 13.

“My friend sent me the link on Facebook for the free screenings,” said Iddly Roman. “I have been having headaches and trouble swallowing. I wanted a physician to look at it.”

“I had melanoma years ago,” said Frances Stites, pointing to where the cancer was removed on her leg. “I keep having to clear my throat,” she explained. “I don’t know if it is reflux or not, but I thought my husband would feel better if I got it checked out.”

For Kendrick Callis, it was a different symptom. “It sounds like my voice is hoarse,” said Callis. “I want to hear what they have to say.”

By the Numbers
April Screening

86 Texas Medical Center
35 Southeast Houston
21 Pearland
25 The Woodlands

Roman, Stites and Callis were three out of the 167 people screened for oral, head and neck cancer on April 13. This year, the screenings were offered at four locations across Greater Houston, instead of one single location in the Texas Medical Center.

“We started the free screening eight years ago,” said Ron J. Karni, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). “The UT Physicians/Memorial Hermann Head and Neck Cancer Program is 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. For this reason, we participate in the annual Head and Neck Cancer Awareness week. This year, we were proud to host screening events in four locations across Greater Houston.”

The screenings, which are painless, take about 10 minutes. Oral, head and neck cancers claim approximately 13,000 lives per year. If diagnosed early, these cancers can be more easily treated without significant complications and the chances of survival greatly increase.

The signs and symptoms of oral, head and neck cancers include:

  • A lump in your neck,
  • A sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal or that increases in size,
  • Persistent pain in your mouth,
  • Lumps or white or red patches inside your mouth,
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue,
  • Soreness in your throat or feeling that something is caught in your throat,
  • Changes in your voice (hoarseness).

For the three patients who agreed to share their stories, they were clear for cancer, but it’s always important to get any concern evaluated.

If you are experiencing similar symptoms, please contact your physician or call 888-4UT-DOCS.


As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.