Head And Neck Cancer Awareness Month
April is 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 developing these types of cancers and to promote the importance of detection and treatment. Often, this type of cancer goes unnoticed by the patient until it has progressed to later stages. At least 75 percent of head and neck cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol use.
Get To Know More About Head And Neck Cancer
Let's grab some knowledge regarding these types of cancer on head and neck cancer awareness month 2023. This month we hope to raise awareness and urge the need for early detection in order to save lives. Head and neck cancer refers to a group of cancers that affects the mouth, throat, nose, sinuses, and other areas of the head and neck. These types of cancer may also spread to the surrounding tissues and lymph nodes. It can be quite serious, the early screening and treatment are critical to achieving the best possible outcomes for patients and their families.
Increasing Awareness During Head And Neck Cancer Awareness Month
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), head and neck cancer is the most common cancer in India, accounting for 30% of all cancers. It is estimated that there are about 1,40,000 new cases of head and neck cancer in India every year. Males are much more susceptible to head and neck cancers than females. Tobacco and alcohol use 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.
By performing regular oral self-examinations is another important 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,
- 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.
- Look for any changes in the colour or texture of the tissues, such as white or red patches, sores that do not heal, or lumps or bumps.
- Check for any unusual growths or swellings, particularly on the sides or bottom of your tongue or at the back of your throat.
- Examine your lips and the skin around your mouth for any unusual changes or sores.
- If you wear dentures, remove them and check the tissues underneath for any changes or sores.
Facts About Head And Neck Cancer
- Globally, Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, with an estimated 6,30,000 new cases diagnosed each year.
- People who use tobacco, consume alcohol heavily, have a history of oral cancer or other 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.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a major factor for oropharyngeal cancer, a type of head and neck cancer that occurs in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils. HPV vaccination is recommended for prevention of oropharyngeal cancer.
- The symptoms of head and neck cancer can vary depending on the location of the cancer, but may include a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing or chewing, persistent hoarseness or a change in voice, and a lump or sore that does not heal.
Reducing The Risk Of Head And Neck Cancer
- 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.
- Drinking alcohol excessively is also a risk factor for head and neck cancers. Limiting your alcohol consumption or avoiding it altogether can help lower your risk.
- Poor oral hygiene can increase your risk of oropharyngeal cancers. Brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist for checkups and cleanings.
- Protecting yourself from the sun by avoiding exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays increases your risk of developing skin cancer on the head and neck. Wear a hat and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 when you're outside.
- The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer. HPV vaccine stimulates the body's production of antibodies against HPV. Getting vaccinated against HPV can help to low down the risks.
- A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains works well from progression of head and neck cancers.
- It's also important to see your healthcare provider 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.
Head And Neck Cancer Screening And Prevention
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, such as CT scans or MRIs, to look for signs of cancer.
- By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, such as practising 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 use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 when you are outside.
- Screening can help identify the type and stage of the cancer, which can help guide treatment decisions and improve outcomes. It is a cost-effective way to detect cancer priorly, which can decrease the need for more extensive and expensive treatments later on.
- The treatment options for head and neck cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted therapy. Also, a combination of these treatments may be used to provide the best possible outcome for the patient. In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
Empower Yourself And Others Through Awareness
Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month is an important time for education, awareness, and action. By increasing awareness and reducing the symptoms 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.