This week is Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week. Last year more than 63,000 Americans developed this cancer, and more than 13,000 died from it. Most of these cases, however, are preventable, so knowing the causes can help you prevent it, and knowing the signs can help you get early treatment.
Up to 90 percent of head and neck cancers are due to prolonged exposure to specific risk factors. Tobacco and alcohol are the most common causes of these types of cancers. In people who don’t smoke or drink, throat cancer can occur as a result of exposure to the human papilloma virus (HPV). Prolonged exposure to sunlight is a major cause of skin or lip cancer. Men are also 2 to 3 times more likely than woman to develop head and neck cancer, and people over the age of 40 are at a higher risk for it, too.
Quitting tobacco is the best way to prevent these types of cancer. Up to 200,000 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses, and many people think switching from cigarettes to chewing tobacco will prevent cancer. In fact, it just makes it more likely to get cancer in the mouth instead of the lungs. Therefore, tobacco should be avoided entirely.
Reducing alcohol consumption can also lower the risk of developing these types of cancer. If you both smoke and drink your risk of these cancers is even higher, so you should eliminate both these habits from your life to reduce the likelihood of getting either type of cancer.
It is recommended you minimize exposure to the sun to reduce the chances of getting skin cancer.
Also, parents are encouraged to have their sons and daughters vaccinated against HPV when they are 11 or 12 years old.
Fortunately, major advances in the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancer are now available. Symptoms of head and neck cancer include the following:
“Prompt recognition of the warning signs and an examination with appropriately-trained physicians are key to successful care,” CEENTA Otolaryngologist and fellowship-trained Head & Neck Cancer Specialist Daniel Brickman, MD, said.
When found early, many head and neck cancers can be cured with few side effects. While these symptoms can occur in patients who don’t have cancer, you should still see a doctor just to be certain. A preventative lifestyle and proactive behavior can help keep your life head and neck cancer-free.
This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. If you have any of these symptoms and want to be checked for head and neck cancer, make an appointment with your doctor today.
The history of people using prosthetic eyes.
Benign ear tumors.