Reigning Miss Cayman Anika Conolly took her award-winning smile to The Dental Centre for a free mouth cancer screening on Thursday.
Twelve Grand Cayman clinics participated in the annual free screenings for mouth and throat cancer, sponsored by the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
“For me, this is a really great opportunity to make sure my health is in good shape. I hope that many people will take this opportunity to check their status as well. Early prevention is key,” Ms. Conolly said.
The 27-year-old won the Miss Cayman crown in March, as well as the award for Best Smile.
For those who could not attend Thursday’s screening, the cancer society offers free screening vouchers year round for mouth and throat cancer, mammograms, pap smears and prostate-specific antigen tests.
Cancer society operations manager Jennifer Weber said the islands have seen an increase in mouth and throat cancer detections. She encouraged more people to seek out screenings to promote early detection.
“We know that early detection saves lives, so hopefully the future trend will be less stage-4 cancers. If it’s out there, we want to catch it as early as possible,” Ms. Weber said.
The Dental Centre’s Keelin Fox helped set up mouth and throat screenings in Cayman three years ago. She advised patients to pay attention to symptoms like hoarseness, mouth ulcers and cuts on the lip that last for weeks.
Tobacco and alcohol use increase mouth and throat cancer risk, she said. In recent years, HPV infections have also led to cases in younger patients.
“Historically this cancer was seen as a cancer that affected older men. But now we’ve seen a shift where we’re seeing younger people presenting. For people under 40, a lot of the time it might be HPV,” Dr. Fox said.
The lips are a common site for mouth cancer to form, so she recommends using a strong SPF lip balm to protect against sun damage.
“The success of this day isn’t purely event turnout. The screening is a great opportunity. We just want people to know about this and to talk about it, and to be aware of the signs and symptoms,” she said.