Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month
April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month. The observance is intended to raise awareness about these types of malignancies and the need for more effective therapies.
Head and neck cancer refer to cancers in the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, sinuses and nasal cavity, and salivary glands. These cancers are often accompanied by symptoms that are uncomfortable and disruptive to everyday life, such as difficulty chewing, swallowing, breathing, or moving one’s jaw. Luckily, many cases of head and neck cancer are preventable and current treatment can often remove the tumor without many complications.
we are providing the following information on what you can do to reduce your risk. Although there is no proven way to completely prevent this disease, you may be able to lower your risk with these steps.
- Stop the use of all tobacco products is the most important thing a person can do to reduce their risk, even for people who have been smoking for many years.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Discuss marijuana as a risk factor with your doctor and avoid marijuana use.
- Use sunscreen regularly, including lip balm with an adequate sun protection factor (SPF).
- Get the HPV vaccine or limit your number of sexual partners, since having many partners increases the risk of HPV infection. Using a condom during sex cannot fully protect you from HPV.
- Maintain proper care of dentures. Poorly fitting dentures can trap tobacco and alcohol’s cancer-causing substances. People who wear dentures should have their dentures evaluated by a dentist at least every 5 years to ensure a good fit. Dentures should be removed every night and cleaned and rinsed thoroughly every day.
Detection and Treatment
Most types of head and neck cancers can be cured, especially if found early enough. While there are no current screening methods in place, people who regularly use tobacco and/or alcohol should receive general health screenings at least once a year. Regular health appointments provide medical professionals the opportunity to monitor for any abnormalities in the head and neck region. The most common symptom of head and neck cancer is swelling or a sore that does not heal. If someone at an increased risk of head and neck cancer experiences this, or any other persistent and unusual discomforts in the head and neck region, they should consult their doctor immediately.
The most common form of treatment for head and neck cancer is surgery. During surgery, the goal is to remove the cancerous tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue without impacting function. Like many cancers, it is sometimes impossible to completely remove the tumor. In cases such as this, surgeries may be paired with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Eating Well With Head and Neck Cancer
A healthy diet is an important part of a head and neck cancer patient’s journey before, during, and after treatment. Eating healthy can help prevent weight loss, lack of appetite, and other side effects associated with head and neck cancer treatment. It can also help you feel better and respond better to your cancer treatment.