News Release: Emory Healthcare

Aug. 31,  2010

Labor Day, Racing, Music and... Cancer Screenings?

Emory Healthcare's team of staff and clinical volunteers to provide race fans with many free health screening options during race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway

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When more than 150,000 race fans, visitors and support crews flood Atlanta Motor Speedway this Labor Day weekend, they will find more than white knuckle racing action, rock and roll concerts, food and fun. They might also learn a thing or two about their health – possibly saving their own lives in the process.

Emory Healthcare, the official healthcare partner for the Atlanta Motor Speedway and this year’s Emory Healthcare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race, will bring its own pit crew team of volunteers to Henry County in order to provide free health care screenings including:

  • Blood pressure screenings
  • Smoking cessation help and information
  • Head, neck and skin cancer screenings
  • Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings
  • General health and wellness information

According to Dane Peterson, chief operating officer for Emory University Hospital Midtown, providing health information and screening services to so many people during the race weekend was a major appeal to Emory Healthcare when discussing partnership opportunities with the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“When we initially began considering the possibility of partnering with the Atlanta Motor Speedway for this year’s race and future events, a key – in fact THE key – allure in our minds was being able to extend our services to the many fans who would be attending this race and surrounding events,” says Peterson. “Having this incredible opportunity to reach out to so many men and women to provide potentially life-saving cancer screenings, blood pressure checks, and informative ways to live a longer and healthier life, is a perfect way for us to thank those in our community who have allowed us to serve them over the years, while also supporting this special event that means so much to our region. At the end of the day, we hope to make a difference in the lives of more than a few individuals and ensure that they will be able to return for many more exciting Labor Day weekends at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.”

Emory Healthcare is partnering with the Atlanta Head & Neck Cancer Coalition, coordinated by Edie Hapner, PhD, director of Speech Language Pathology at the Emory Voice Center. Hapner has coordinated similar life-saving screening events at the Atlanta Motor Speedway for more than four years. Hapner and the Coalition have been doing screenings since 2006. This year, Emory's Winship Cancer Institute and Department of Dermatology will also provide skin cancer screenings.

“We have the privilege of working with 150 volunteers this year, including physicians, dental hygienists, nurses, speech language pathologists, and medical students,” says Hapner. “Over the last few years, we have screened more than 1,700 people. Our findings have been published in the past and show that 43 percent of the people screened are past or current smokers - twice the general population - and 28 percent of those with a history of smoking have demonstrated findings that suggested a need for further medical follow up.

Participating in these events is a fun and rewarding way to give back to our community. And engaging with an at-risk population by providing our expertise is the key to helping fight head and neck cancer early.”

According to the American Cancer Society, this year more than 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancers of the head and neck, which include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx (voice box) and pharynx (throat). Of that number, nearly 8,000 will die. Further, according to the American Cancer Society, most of the more than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are considered to be sun-related. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, accounts for more than 60,000 cases of skin cancer each year and most of the approximately 11,000 deaths due to skin cancer each year.

"Early detection is critical in diagnosing and treating all forms of skin cancer, and early diagnosis greatly increases the chances of successful treatment and survival," says Suephy Chen, MD, associate professor of dermatology in the Emory School of Medicine and director of the Dermatology Clinical and Outcomes Research Unit. "Many individuals, however, do not recognize the signs or symptoms of these cancers, which makes screening opportunities like this one all the more important. I am very excited to have this opportunity to reach out to so many people, and thank my colleagues and volunteers for reaching out to make their Labor Day weekend a healthier one for so many others.”

To further the health benefits offered at the race, Emory Healthcare has also launched a special website dedicated to health, wellness and the Emory Healthcare 500.


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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