HEAD AND NECK CANCER AWARENESS
HEAD AND NECK CANCER AWARENESS WEEK APRIL 13-19
UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS
Did you know?
- It is estimated that more than 60,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with head and neck cancers, with more than 14,000 deaths?
- Males are affected twice as often as females and the common age range is 55 to 65?
- Cancers of the base of tongue and tonsils are increasing in younger, non-smokers, mostly due to infection with HPV?
- Over 70% of head and neck cancers are due to the use of alcohol and tobacco? Some of the other causes includes the human papillomavirus (HPV) as noted above, radiation exposure, and certain other workplace exposures.
- There is a high risk of suicide in head and neck cancer patients? Cancer patients need your support!
Head and neck (H&N) cancer is a difficult cancer to treat. It is very difficult on the patient and also on the cancer team as well. Why? Because of the location and the side effects from treatment, which tends to have a psychological and social impact – the symptoms cannot easily be hidden. However, head and neck cancers can be treated successfully, if detected early.
Where exactly are head and neck cancers?
Cancers of the head and neck are a group of cancers that starts within the mouth, nose, throat, larynx (area of the vocal cord) sinuses or salivary glands. See examples of location and some common cancers in the mouth below. Signs and symptoms
The list of symptoms associated with head and neck cancers are many and general enough that some people may not be alarmed by them. However, we encourage you to see your doctor if there are any new development of masses, unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite, etc., Many times, it is nothing to worry about, but better to know from a physician upfront. Yes? If it is nothing, then great. If it is cancer, it is best to know at the earliest stage possible, so that treatment may render the best possible outcome. Some of the common signs and symptoms of head and neck cancers, may include but is not limited to;
- trouble swallowing
- a sore on the lips or inside the mouth that does not go away (tongue, under the tongue, back of tongue, etc.,)
- a lump or sore throat that does not goes away
- lump, bump or any mass in the head and neck area, with or without pain
- change in the voice
- facial swelling
- persistent ear pain
- jaw pain
- loosening of teeth or dentures that no longer fit in area of sore of swilling
- and more…
Treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy. The type of cancer, stage (how advance it is) and blood tests usually dictate how treatments are combined and whether or not, targeted therapy is indicated. Head and neck cancer surgery can affect the way patients speak and their facial appearance, radiation therapy treatments will cause soreness in the mouth (like sun burns), extraction of a few teeth or all teeth may be required, if they are not healthy (in preparation for radiation).
Combining with radiation therapy with chemotherapy and/or surgery only magnifies the side effects. Most patient cannot eat at some point during treatment and may require feeding through a tube that goes directly through the skin of the abdomen into the stomach. These processes is enough to make many angry, or extremely sad. However, if nothing is done to try and control the cancer, symptoms that brought attention to the cancer can cause a lot of devastating side effects.If the basics of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and other terminology used in cancer discussion is unfamiliar to you, consider the Cancer 101 course to learn more.
Life is beautiful and God is awesome. And know, you are pure awesomeness!
Until next time,
Ipsa Scientia Potestas est ——— Knowledge itself is power!
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Queen, Your Family Friendly Cancer Doc!