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More than 100 people receive free oral exams, courtesy of the City of Gulfport.

Wed, Apr 27, 2011

OCF In The News, Oral Cancer News


The Walgreen’s parking lot in Gulfport became a dentist office for a day. And instead of paying a fee for a clinical exam, patients were seen for free.

“I was very surprised because screenings of any kind are minimum of $35 to $50 dollars, so that was very nice. They advertised it very well,” St. Petersburg resident Rosalind Dunlop said.

This is the second year the City of Gulfport’s sponsored a free oral cancer screening The goal: to inform, educate and refer people to seek additional medical help if any signs are detected.

“We have volunteer dentists, it takes a couple of minutes, there’s no pain involved and it may save your life,” Gulfport Vice Mayor David Hastings said.

“It’s a free exam, basically we’ve had all sorts of people come in. Some people regularly go to the dentist, I had one person, it had been 17 years since they had been to the dentist. So, all sorts of people that have come in and I think we found, two that I’ve found that just need to be referred,” Dentist Lawrence N. Klein said.

“Last year, we screened over 200 and we referred nine people out. This year, I’ve already seen about five referral sheets going out. It’s not good to get the referral sheet, but on the same hand, it may be the thing that saves your life,” Hastings said.

“It’s your responsibility to take care of your own health. If you don’t want to know, I’m not saying anything about who doesn’t, but you can’t take care of anything if you don’t know,” Dunlop said.

“Sometimes the scary part is there’s no symptoms. Sometimes there’s swelling, sometimes there’s a growth or something that somebody will notice. But, sometimes we’ll pick up something, whether it be a clinical exam by feeling or looking or by actually taking some X-rays,” Klein said.

That’s why organizers and cancer survivors say the screening is vital.

“I was diagnosed with stage four oral cancer and I my symptoms were totally painless. I just had a little lump in my neck. Totally painless. Actually if it weren’t for my wife, I’d probably be dead today because I wouldn’t have ignored it beyond the point that it was treatable,” Hastings said.

“We came out to have it looked at. But I’ve learned. Anything I see that’s health oriented, I come out and do it. I just want to know and at least try to be proactive,” Dunlop said.

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