Everything you should know about head and neck cancer - Make Sense Campaign
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Dr.Ajay Bapna

Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world. In central Asia, it is the most common one.
Smoking, consumption of alcohol, and chewing of tobacco are the main causes. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is also a risk factor.

Persistent mouth ulcers, painful ulcerative lesion on the lip, a hoarse voice, dysphagia, and lump in the throat are the major symptoms.

The disease can be diagnosed by clinical examination, CT scan, MRI, and biopsy. After the diagnosis and staging of the disease, head and neck cancer is treated through surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.

In the early stages, the disease is mainly treated by surgery. In certain clinical situations, radiotherapy is the treatment of choice. Bulky tumours are generally best treated with a combination of surgery and radiotherapy. More than 60% of head and neck cancers are advanced locoregional diseases.

The use of radiotherapy with concurrent chemotherapy has been demonstrated to be associated with survival advantage over radiotherapy alone.

Although platinum-based chemotherapy is a preferred choice of treatment for fit patients, targeted therapies for platinum-unfit patients come with good survival advantages.

Recently, targeted therapies and immune-oncology drugs have also shown promising results in relapsed cases.

This article has been written by Dr.Ajay Bapna, HOD & Consultant Medical Oncologist, Department Of Medical Oncology, Bhagwan Mahaveer Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, Jaipur.