Free screenings for curable cancers if caught early

Exterior shot of new Park Avenue Medical Center in Trumbull (Photo provided by Yale New Haven Health)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A head/neck cancer screening takes just five minutes and this one is free.

It’s a checkup from the neck up offered by Yale-New Haven Health this time of year.

A co-worker pressed Leonard Barraco to sign up.

“I was healthy, the only thing that was going on — I was feeling tired,” said Leonard, who didn’t think there was a reason to go.

But the non-invasive exam led to something suspicious, requiring follow ups.

“And between those two times,” said Leonard. “I had this big growth that came out of my neck, it just seemed like overnight.”

A biopsy confirming that Leonard, with no risk factors, had thyroid cancer.

“We have guidelines of when to get mammograms for breast cancer, when to get a chest x-ray for lung cancer, prostate cancer screening. There’s no clear guideline for head/neck cancer,” said Ear, Nose and Throat specialist Dr. Saral Mehra.

Curable cancers, if caught early.

Educating patients on signs and symptoms is all part of it.

A major concern is an uptick on a fairly new type of cancer.

“That was only discovered maybe 10 or 15 years ago called HPV associated throat cancer and this happens in younger patients who don’t smoke, who don’t drink, not your typical head/neck cancer patients,” said Dr. Mehra.

The 18-year hospital employee now cancer-free is on a mission to get others to take part.

“Obviously, the cancer screening or the head and neck screening did wonders for me. So please if there’s anybody thinking about it, don’t hesitate,” said Leonard.

There are four different sites in the state.

The first one is Friday, April 7th at Yale-New Haven Hospital from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Walk-ins are welcome, but registration is recommended.

Here’s more information:

Friday, April 7 – Yale New Haven Hospital – East Pavilion Cafeteria Special Events Room in New Haven, 2 – 6:30 p.m.
Registration recommended – walk-ins welcome. Call 888-700-6543

Tuesday, April 25 – Smilow Cancer Center at Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center in Waterbury, 4 – 6 p.m.
Registration required – 203-575-5585

Thursday, May 4 – Park Avenue Medical Center in Trumbull, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Level One-Specialty Physicians Area.
Registration recommended – walk-ins welcome. Call 888-357-2396

Friday, May 5 – Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Noble Conference Room
Registration recommended – walk-ins welcome. Call 888-357-2409

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