Understanding Head and Neck Cancers

Thursday, April 1, 2021

According to the American Cancer Society, close to 67,000 people in the United States are expected to develop head and neck cancer this year alone. Nearly 15,000 deaths are estimated. Head and neck cancers can occur in the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, sinus cavity, salivary glands and other areas in the head and neck region.

85% of these cancers are linked to tobacco use. Stopping tobacco use and curbing alcohol consumption are the two most important measures you can take to protect yourself from the risks of head and neck cancers.
Additional risk factors include:
· Sun exposure (linked to skin cancer of the head and neck region)
· Age and gender (People over 40 are most at risk, and men are several times more likely to be diagnosed than women)
· Epstein-Barr virus infection
· Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection

A routine examination with your primary care physician can lead to the detection of suspicious lumps or abnormalities. If an area of concern is detected, you may be sent for testing or follow-up with additional specialists.

Symptoms associated with head and neck cancer can include a lump or sore that won’t heal, difficulty swallowing or breathing, a a change in your voice, jaw pain and even a loosening of the teeth.

Head and neck cancers can become life threatening if not detected and treated at an early stage. The location and stage of the disease determines the course of treatment, which could feature medications, radiation, chemotherapy or surgery. Specialists involved in your treatment might include radiologists, oncologists, plastic & reconstructive surgeons, ENT surgeons, physical therapists and speech-language therapists.

If you have concerns about your risks for head & neck cancer, the Watson Clinic Foundation encourages you to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider for a comprehensive examination. Call 863-680-7190 or click here to schedule an appointment today.

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