This year alone, oral cancer will be diagnosed in over 45,000 Americans and cause 8,650 deaths – or one every hour of the day – according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. Because patient survival rates improve when oral cancer is detected early, the South Florida State College Dental Education Clinic is offering free oral cancer screenings on Thursday, Oct. 15, 3:30-6 p.m.

The signs and symptoms of oral cancer are often missed by the naked eye and not detected until the cancer has advanced to the point that patients only have a 50 percent chance of survival. Oral cancer screenings are painless and take only a few minutes, but they can catch the disease early when it is in its most treatable stage. Everyone over age 17 should be screened annually.

The screenings help SFSC’s Dental Hygiene students as well by giving them real-world experience detecting oral cancer under the supervision of a licensed dentist and dental hygienists.

Appointments are required by calling 784-7020. SFSC’s Dental Education Clinic is located in Building T-1 on the Highlands Campus, 600 West College Drive, Avon Park.