As the month of April brings oral, head, and neck cancer into focus, it’s time to increase public understanding of the disease, including its prevalence, approaches to screening and prevention, treatment options, and resources that offer updated head and neck cancer information throughout the year.
Oral head and neck cancers usually begin in the squamous cells that line the moist, mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck: the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, paranasal sinuses, nasal cavity, and salivary glands. Other cancers such as brain, eye, esophagus, and thyroid etc. are not classified as head and neck cancers as these do not originate in the same type of cell.
At least 75 percent of head and neck cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol use. People who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk of developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone (about 30 times the risk). The symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or a sore that bleeds easily and does not heal; a persistent red or white patch, lump, or thickening in the throat or mouth; ear pain; a neck mass; and coughing up blood, difficulty chewing, swallowing, or moving the tongue and jaws.
Oral, head, and neck cancers account for approximately 3 percent of all cancers in the United States. These cancers are more than twice as common among men as they are among women, and although the rates of these cancers have been declining over the last 30 years, the incidence of oropharyngeal cancers caused by HPV (human-papillomavirus) infection are increasing. Studies have not yet demonstrated what impact HPV vaccines might have on the incidence of HPV caused oropharyngeal cancers.
Staying informed with the latest news on prevention and screening is an important step in reducing your risk of developing head and neck cancer and of detecting disease in its early, most treatable stages. And, should a diagnosis occur, access to current, in-depth treatment information can help you get the best care.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT HEAD AND NECK CANCER
Knowledge is power. Are you facing a new diagnosis, recurrence, living with metastatic disease, or supporting a loved one through their cancer journey?
- Sign up for monthly newsletters on head and neck cancer here.
- Get the facts about head and neck cancer here.
- Join ongoing discussions with other individuals affected by head and neck cancer in the CancerConnect private online head and neck cancer support group here.
- Follow CancerConnect on Facebookand Twitter.
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 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts and Figures 2016. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdfAccessed March 30, 2016.
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