Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Experts Working to Increase Awareness

Local survivor still singing after battle with tongue cancer


(Baton Rouge, La.) Melody Breckenridge loves to sing. However, when a bump appeared on the side of her tongue, it threatened to end one of the great passions of her life. After a biopsy of the tumor led to a tongue cancer diagnosis, Breckenridge was successfully treated. Now, she is once again singing solos at her church and attributes her survivorship to specialized, high-quality cancer care and early detection. Now, she encourages others to get screened for head and neck cancers, as well.

Approximately 60,000 people are diagnosed with oral, head and neck cancers every year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. This is why the Head and Neck Cancer Multidisciplinary Care Team (Head and Neck MDC Team) at Mary Bird Perkins – Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center is encouraging more people to learn about these cancers. During April, recognized as National Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, the Cancer Center’s Head and Neck MDC Team uses the opportunity to increase awareness about early detection of these potentially fatal diseases.

The National Cancer Institute reports that three percent of all cancers each year are represented by nasal cavity, sinus, lip, mouth, salivary gland, throat or larynx cancers. While these cancers are less common than others, they are dangerous and some of the most complex to treat.

Daniel Nuss, M.D., Chair of the Cancer Center’s Head and Neck MDC Team and ranked in the top one percent of doctors according to the America’s Top Doctors® for Cancer listing, said that he and his colleagues are concerned about the lack of awareness of oral, head and neck cancers and feel it is important for everyone to become educated about them.

“Symptoms of these cancers may be as simple as a sore throat that doesn’t go away or a lump or sore that doesn’t heal,” said Dr. Nuss. “A screening for oral, head and neck cancer may be something you want to incorporate in your annual health checkup. Just like every other cancer, the earlier it is detected the better the chances are for the best possible outcome. It’s important to have this conversation with your doctor.”

For Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, the Cancer Center’s team of renowned experts is primarily focusing on individuals most at risk, particularly those who use tobacco and/or alcohol. In addition, the Oral Cancer Foundation reports that due to the connection to the human papilloma virus (HPV), the quickest growing segment of the oral cancer population is young, healthy and non-smokers. As a result, the Cancer Center’s Head and Neck MDC Team works to help educate younger people about the risks and warning signs of these particular cancers.

Head and Neck MDC Team members include surgical, medical and radiation oncologists, pathologists, and other specialists who work together to ensure the highest level of care for oral, head and neck cancer patients.

To learn about head and neck cancers, please visit www.mbpolol.org/headandneck.


As the regional destination for cancer care, Mary Bird Perkins—Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center offers advanced technology and services provided by nationally-recognized doctors and other oncology health professionals who have dedicated their lives to fighting the disease. The Cancer Center is consistently recognized for its dedication to offering best-practice, comprehensive care at every stage of the cancer journey.