Tobacco linked to head and neck cancer - Make Sense Campaign
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Dr. Avinash CB

More than 2 lakh people are diagnosed with head and neck every year in India, making it the 2nd most common cancer in the country.
Head and neck cancers include cancers of the mouth and throat and some rarer cancers. These include cancer of the sinuses (air spaces in the bones of the face), the salivary glands, nose, or middle ear.

Mouth cancer develops in the lip, tongue, or anywhere inside the mouth. Throat cancer develops in the larynx and pharynx. Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell cancers, which start in the cells lining the mouth, nose, and throat.

Excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol, infection with HPV, overexposure to UV rays, and advancing age are the major risk factors.
A lump or a sore that does not heal or go away, a persistent sore throat, frequent coughing, a red or white patch in the mouth, difficulty in swallowing, trouble breathing, change or hoarseness of the voice, fatigue, or unexplained weight loss are the symptoms.

Head and neck cancers can be targeted with radiation, surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Surgery is often the first-line treatment option for head and neck cancers. Radiation therapy delivers high doses of radiation to cancerous cells.

Chemotherapy is typically reserved for patients whose cancer has metastasized to the bones or elsewhere in the body.
Targeted therapy helps in attacking specific proteins and preventing cancer cells from dividing or destroying them directly. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a potential target in head and neck cancer, and is a protein found on the surface of many types of cancer cells.

Immunotherapy drugs have been designed to help the body’s immune system identify and kill cancer cells. Immunotherapy may not be used to treat all patients, and responses to the treatment may vary.

This article has been written by Dr.Avinash CB, Consultant Medical Oncologist, ClearMedi Radiant Hospital, Mysuru, Karnataka.