Have you ever experienced pain in the ear and throat while swallowing? Have you ever noticed a change in your voice and have been suffering from persistent hoarseness?
Have you encountered a different kind of bleeding in the mouth and throat? If yes, you may be in danger of having contracted head and neck cancer.
Head and neck cancer comes in different kinds. This form of cancer affects the tissues and organs in the areas of the head and neck.
In some cases, head and neck cancer may occur in the nasal and paranasal cavities, larynx and even the salivary gland. However, most of them originate from the nasal cavity.
Sores and lesions in the mouth are always viewed as precursors to head and neck cancer especially if they do not disappear after two weeks.
Specialists usually require a thorough examination and a biopsy of a tissue sample taken from a lesion to determine whether a patient has head and neck cancer or not.
Every year, the incidence of head and neck cancer increases. Such disease often affects men in a ratio of 3:1 as against women. However, these figures are most likely to change depending on the incidence of smoking and alcoholic drinking among women.
Age is also considered a risk factor since most of those affected are over the age of 60. In addition to this, African American men are more prone to contract this disease than Caucasians.
Just like most cancer types, head and neck cancer is a lifestyle disease. Thus, it can be avoided and prevented by observing some of these practices:
1. Quit smoking
Smoking and tobacco account for being the most common cause of head and neck cancer. Tobacco predominantly affects the larynx and hypo pharynx. Statistically, a person who smokes is 35% more at risk than non-smokers.
2. Avoid drinking alcohol
Avoid heavy intakes of alcoholic drinks. Doctors have confirmed that almost 85% of patients with head and neck cancer are exposed to excessive alcohol. If combined with tobacco use, a person’s chances of acquiring the disease is almost a hundred fold than a non-drinker and non-smoker.
3. Minimize industrial exposure
Studies have shown that frequent wood and dust inhalation increases a person’s risk to head and neck cancer. You’re also more prone to it if you are constantly exposed to chemicals.
4. Observe oral hygiene
Since lesions primarily develop in the mouth area, observing proper oral hygiene will help eliminate bacteria in the mouth. Brush your teeth after every meal and gargle regularly.
5. Follow a healthy diet
To lessen your risk of contracting this kind of cancer, it is suggested that you follow a diet regimen rich in vitamins A and B.
Nevertheless, several treatment options are available for patients with head and neck cancer. These treatments may either come in the form of medication, radiation, surgery or chemotherapy depending on the stage of the disease and the location of the cancer cells.