Public Urged to Attend Free Screening during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

Contact:Donna Sellmann, Public Relations Manager

Public Urged to Attend Free Screening during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week

Kenneth Newkirk, M.D. of Meridian Cancer Care to provide free screenings on April 16, 2015

Kenneth Newkirk, M.D., an otolaryngologist specializing in head and neck oncology, will pair with members of the Meridian Health dental faculty to offer free neck, head, and oral screenings on April 16, 2015. The screenings are offered as part of Head and Neck Awareness Week, a national movement dedicated to improving awareness for head and neck screening and cancer detection.

Screenings will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, first floor Amdur Ambulatory Care Center, located at 1945 Route 33 in Neptune, NJ. Screenings take about five minutes, are non-invasive and painless, and help people learn if they could be at risk for cancer. Light refreshments will be provided. To reserve your space, please call 1-800-560-9990.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there were an estimated 118,050 new cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed in 2014 and 13,890 deaths. These numbers include oral cancer, throat cancers caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV, voice box cancer, melanoma of the face and thyroid cancers. If all skin cancers are included, that number rises to over one million. The fastest rising types of these cancers are mouth and throat cancer, which account for over 40,000 cases per year in the U.S. Head and neck cancers account for approximately three percent of all diagnosed cancers in the country.

Donnie Walsh, former President of the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks and an oral cancer survivor, is urging Americans to get screened for cancer during the 18th annual Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®), being held nationwide April 12-18. Meridian Health joins more than 200 sites throughout the country that will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings during OHANCAW, which is sponsored by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA).

Mr. Walsh, currently a consultant for Basketball Operations of the Pacers, has spent his life in and around basketball, initially as a player in high school and college, and then moving on to a 37-year career in the National Basketball Association, including coach of the Denver Nuggets and high-level administrative positions with the Pacers and Knicks. In 2008, Mr. Walsh was diagnosed with stage 1 tongue cancer. Following a surgical resection procedure, which required removal of the affected part of his tongue, the cancer has been kept under control.

"An abnormal growth on my tongue was first spotted during a routine dental appointment, and I am fortunate and grateful that my cancer was detected and diagnosed early enough for me to undergo a relatively simple surgical procedure," said Mr. Walsh. "My experience has taught me the importance of early detection and I encourage everyone to get screened for oral, head and neck cancers by taking advantage of the free screenings offered during OHANCAW at hundreds of local facilities throughout the country listed on the website. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve the outcome and chances of survival for people with these cancers. The ball is in your court... get yourself screened!"

About Meridian Health
Meridian Health is the only system partner of the prestigious Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center (NCI-CCC). The coveted NCI-CCC designation is only awarded to 41 centers in nation. They investigate and share the nation’s very latest treatments and most promising clinical trials. Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, fitness and wellness centers, and outpatient centers. In September 2014, Meridian Health and Raritan Bay Medical Center signed a Letter of Intent to merge. In October 2014, Meridian Health and Hackensack University Health Network signed a Memorandum of Understanding to merge. Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" for five consecutive years, and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence. Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium alongside six of the nation’s leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies. With more than 100 convenient locations, over 1,800 beds, nearly 13,000 team members, and affiliations with more than 2,000 of the area’s finest physicians, Meridian Health is a leading health care provider in New Jersey, providing quality health services, facilities, and programs. For more information, please visit