Free head and neck cancer screenings

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — More than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with head and neck cancer yearly. It’s one of the most common cancers, and one of the most curable if caught early. Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and Yale Cancer Center are offering a free check up from the neck up.

A relaxed George Bradt now walks the halls of Smilow Cancer Hospital, a much different story from about a year ago.

“I woke up at 1:30 in the morning and blood was coming out of my mouth,” said Bradt.

Initially, it baffled doctors. A biopsy later revealed the diagnosis.

“He called me two days later and said yeah, you know that biopsy, you have throat cancer,” said Bradt.

Stage-two throat cancer.

Dr. Wendell Yarbrough, Director of Head And Neck Cancer, was the surgeon who operated on Bradt.

“It is curable, but like a lot of cancers, the earlier it is caught the more curable it is,” said Dr. Yarbrough.

The early diagnosis led to less invasive therapies, and no chemo or radiation after surgery.

“Our protocol is to find out as much as we can about the tumor, its spread and its characteristics pathologically, and then make decisions about treatments that are needed based on that,” said Dr. Yarbrough.

The non-smoker showed no other symptoms, which include a lingering sore throat, a persistent raspy voice, and difficulty swallowing. Not aware at the time that screening was available, the writer for Forbes shares his story to raise awareness.

“If you do it, and you’ve got it, nice to know,” said Bradt. “If you do it and you don’t have it, nice to know.”

With more people now at risk, mostly due to exposure to HPV, the virus associated with head and neck cancer, getting screened from the neck up could be a lifesaving step. Other common risk factors include smoking, tobacco use, and poor oral hygiene.

The free head and neck cancer screenings are in New Haven at the McGivney Cancer Care Center and Waterbury at The Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center on Wednesday, April 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. They’re also being done Friday, April 17 in the East Pavilion Cafeteria Special Event Room at Yale-New Haven Hospital from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information on the New Haven locations, walk-ins welcome, register toll free at (888)700-6543.

The Waterbury site is by appointment only. To make one call (203)575-5544 or email

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