Are You Joining the Fight? It's Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month!

Head And Neck Cancer Awareness Month
8 Apr 2024
8 mins
Table Of Content
Are You Joining the Fight? It's Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month!

    Did you know April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month?


    April is designated as Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month. The primary aim of this awareness month is to increase public knowledge and understanding of head and neck cancers, including their risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options. It is also an opportunity for people to take steps to reduce their chances of these types of cancer and to promote the importance of detection and treatment. Let's learn about these types of cancer in Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month 2024. 

    What Is The Main Cause Of Head And Neck Cancer?


    Head and neck cancer is a group of cancers that can affect the mouth, throat, nose, sinuses, and other areas of the head and neck and may also spread to the surrounding tissues. It can be quite serious; early screening and treatment are critical to achieving the best possible outcomes for patients and their families. 

    Tobacco and alcohol consumption are the most common risk factors, particularly for cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, and pharynx. You should always be aware that exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, such as asbestos and wood dust, can also be the major cause of developing head and neck cancer.

    How Common Are Head And Neck Cancers In India?


    The ICMR estimated that head and neck cancer is the most common cancer in India, reported for 30% of all cancers. Every year, there are about 140,000 newly formed cases of head and neck cancer reported in India, with males being much more susceptible to these types of cancers than females. 

    What Are The Screening And Prevention Methods?


    If you are at an increased risk for head and neck cancer, it is essential to speak with your doctor about getting screened. Your doctor may recommend a physical exam, as well as imaging tests, like CT scans or MRIs, to look for signs of cancer. 

    1. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as practicing good oral hygiene, protecting yourself from the sun, and mainly avoiding exposure to UV radiation from the sun, is necessary because it can increase your risk of lip cancer. Wear a hat and sunscreen with at least SPF 30 when outside.
    2. Screening can help identify the type and stage of head and neck cancer, which can help guide treatment plans and improve outcomes. It is a cost-effective way to detect cancer prior to diagnosis, which can decrease the need for more extensive and expensive treatments later on.
    3. The head and neck cancer treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. A combination of these treatments may also be used to provide the best possible outcome for the patient. In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.

    How To Perform A Self-Examination?


    Regular oral self-examinations are another crucial way to get awakened by detecting potential warning signs of Head and Neck cancer. Here are some steps you can take to perform an oral self-examination,


    1. Find a well-lit area and use a mirror to examine the inside of your mouth, including your gums, tongue, cheeks, roof of your mouth, and back of your throat.
    2. Look for any changes in the color or texture of the tissues, such as white or red patches, sores that do not heal, or lumps or bumps.
    3. Check for any unusual growths or swellings, particularly on the sides or bottom of your tongue or at the back of your throat.
    4. Examine your lips and the skin around your mouth for any unusual changes or sores.
    5. If you wear dentures, remove them and check the tissues underneath for any changes or sores.


    4 Unlocking Head and Neck Cancer: Unveiling Lesser-Known Facts


    1. Head and neck cancer is the 6th most commonly affecting cancer globally, with an estimated 6,30,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
    2. People who use tobacco, consume alcohol, have a history of head and neck cancers, or have a history of HPV infection are at increased risk for oral cancer and may benefit from more frequent screenings.
    3. Human papillomavirus is a significant factor in oropharyngeal cancer, which is a type of head and neck cancer that forms in the back of the throat, such as the base of the tongue and tonsils. HPV vaccination is advised for the prevention of oropharyngeal cancer.
    4. The head and neck cancer symptoms may vary depending on the location of the cancer, but it may include a sore throat that does not go away easily, difficulty in swallowing or chewing, persistent hoarseness or a change in voice, and a lump or sore that does not heal.

    How Can We Reduce The Risk Of Head And Neck Cancer?


    1. Smoking and using smokeless tobacco increases the chances of head and neck cancers. Quitting and avoiding all forms of tobacco helps in reducing the cancer's development.
    2. Drinking heavy alcohol is also a risk factor for head and neck cancers. Limiting your alcohol consumption or avoiding it altogether can help lower your risk.
    3. Poor oral hygiene can elevate your risk of oropharyngeal cancers. Brush regularly and visit the dentist for checkups and cleanings.
    4. Protecting yourself from the sun by avoiding exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays increases the risk of getting skin cancer on the head and neck. Wear a hat and apply sunscreen which contains SPF of at least 30 when outside.
    5. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer. HPV vaccine stimulates the body's production of antibodies against HPV. Getting vaccinated can help to reduce the risks of cancer caused by the HPV virus.
    6. A diet containing fruits, vegetables, and grains can slow the progression of head and neck cancers.
    7. It's also important to see your doctor regularly for checkups and to report any unusual symptoms or changes in your health, such as persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or a lump in the neck.

    Empower Yourself And Others Through Awareness


    Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month is important for education, awareness, and action. By increasing awareness of head and neck cancer, we can encourage people to take steps to avoid their risk and get screened. Together, we can work towards reducing the impact of head and neck cancer on people around the world through early screening and treatment by improving the lives of those who are affected by this disease. Join us this April to fight against head and neck cancer together!

    Written by
    Ishwarya RMedical Content Writer
    AboutIshwary R is a Medical Content Writer at MrMed. She completed her PG from the University of Madras, Chennai. She did her final year project in CSIR-CLRI, Adyar, entitled Studies on production of Biosurfactant by bacillus subtilis using Leather industry bioproduct. She did her offline internship and learned clinical Laboratory skills in Billroth hospital and her online internship in SS Healthcare. She strengthened her skills in research, writing, editing, and proofreading medical content, blogs, and scientific articles.
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