Did you know that head and neck cancer represents the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S.?
According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 50,000 cases diagnosed annually and over 12,000 deaths. But, over 70% of Americans say they have not been examined by a medical professional for oral, head and neck cancer.
Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week is sponsored by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance to promote awareness of oral, head and neck cancer and to encourage people to get checked for it.
Risk Factors Linked to Head and Neck Cancer:
Tobacco and alcohol use are the most important risk factors for head and neck cancers, particularly those of the tongue, mouth, throat and voice box. According to the National Cancer Institute, 85% of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco and alcohol use.
Not only is tobacco use a major risk factor for developing an initial tumor, it also increases the risk for secondary tumors. By not chewing tobacco not only are you cutting down your risk for oral cancer, but it also helps keep your teeth white.
Signs and Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancers:
- A sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal or increases in size
- Persistent pain in your mouth
- White or red patches inside your mouth or on the tongue
- Thickening of your cheek
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing or moving your tongue
- Difficulty moving your jaw, or swelling or pain in your jaw
- Soreness in your throat or feeling that something is caught in your throat
- Pain around your teeth, or loosening of your teeth
- Numbness of your tongue or elsewhere in your mouth
- A lump in your neck
- Bleeding from mouth or throat
- Lumps or white or red areas on your palate or tonsil
- Bad breath
- Trouble breathing or coughing up blood
Dentists and doctors offer free screenings nationwide during Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week in April, so check with your local dentist to find out when they offer their free screening.