April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, a time to educate and spread awareness about the early signs, symptoms and treatment methods for head and neck cancer. There are a variety of different types of head and neck cancer, each affecting different areas of the head and neck. These different types include Oral Cavity (mouth), Oropharyngeal (throat), Laryngeal (voice box), Hypopharyngeal (lower throat), Nasopharyngeal (upper throat), Nasal Cavity (nose), Paranasal Sinuses (sinus) and Salivary Gland cancer. Each of these can cause complications with vital functions such as speaking and swallowing. However, it is estimated that only 3% of cancers are considered to be oral, head or neck cancer.
Each type of head and neck cancer has differing symptoms. For example, cancer of the throat may cause hoarseness or change of voice, whereas cancer of the mouth may cause pain in the mouth that won’t go away or a sore on the lip or in the mouth that doesn’t heal.
It is important to note that these symptoms may be related to other conditions, so it is imperative to see a healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms.
While not all types of head and neck cancer can be prevented, there are many ways to reduce the risk of developing these different types of cancers. Some methods to reduce the risk of diagnosis include avoiding tobacco and alcohol, getting regular dental check-ups, getting the HPV vaccine and avoiding HPV infection, avoiding workplace chemicals and watching your eating habits.
Treatment is effective.
When detected early, there are treatment options that can be used effectively including surgery, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and chemotherapy. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used. Treatment is based on location of the cancer, stage and overall health of the patient.
Head and neck cancer is preventable and treatable, and early detection is key to improving outcomes for those who are diagnosed. Remember that by avoiding tobacco and alcohol, getting regular dental check-ups, getting the HPV vaccine and avoiding the HPV infection, avoiding workplace chemicals and watching your eating habits, you can take steps to protect yourself from this disease.
If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your healthcare provider.
To learn more about Ackerman Cancer Center’s screening services and treatment methods for head and neck cancer, call (904)880-5522 today.