Head and neck cancer: Early diagnosis is the key to survival - Make Sense Campaign
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Dr.Mohan Menon

Head and neck cancers are those that occur in the head and neck region (excluding the brain). They include cancers of the oral cavity, which are especially common in India due to the widespread use of tobacco, betel nut, and alcohol. The other sites of origin are the oropharynx, nasopharynx, larynx, and hypopharynx.

The symptoms of head and neck cancers include a non-healing sore on the lips or mouth, a white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth, a lump on the lips or gums, bleeding/pain/numbness of the lips, hoarseness of voice, and chewing or swallowing difficulties. Swelling of the jaw, a persistent lump in the neck, and weight loss are the other signs.

The symptoms may vary depending on the location and stage of the cancer. See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. Remember that early diagnosis and treatment always yield better outcomes.
Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy are the treatment options for head and neck cancers. We often combine these to improve the chances of survival. Recent advances in these treatment modalities have renewed our optimism for successful outcomes.
Additionally, malnutrition and swallowing difficulties may be addressed by a nutritionist and speech therapist, respectively.

This article has been written by Dr. Mohan Menon, who is an American Board-certified medical oncologist. He practises at HN Reliance, Lilavati, and Breach Candy Hospitals and is also a visiting faculty at Hartford Health Care Cancer Institute, CT, US.