April is recognized as Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month. It is dedicated to increasing awareness about this type of cancer, which affects thousands of people worldwide. This year, the theme of the awareness month is ‘Voicing for Head and Neck Cancer Awareness’, a call for everyone to raise their voices and spread awareness about this disease. Here as a practising head and neck cancer doctor in Kolkata, I have contributed my views about this broad spectrum of cancers.

What are head and neck cancers?

Head and neck cancer refers to the group of cancers that develop in the tissues of the head and neck region, including the pharynx, larynx, thyroid, mouth, sinuses, nose, and salivary glands. Unfortunately, this type of cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, making treatment challenging and decreasing the chances of a successful outcome. Hence, it is crucial to spread awareness about the symptoms and risk factors of head and neck cancer and promote early detection and treatment.

What are the risk factors for head and neck cancer?

The most common risk factors for head and neck cancer include tobacco and alcohol use, exposure to certain viruses such as HPV, and a history of radiation therapy. However, anyone can develop this type of cancer, regardless of their risk factors, which is why it’s essential to pay attention to any signs or symptoms that may indicate the presence of cancer.

What are the common symptoms?

Some of the most common symptoms of head and neck cancer include a persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, a lump or sore that doesn’t heal, a change in the voice, or persistent ear pain. If you experience any or several of the symptoms, you need to consult the best head and neck cancer doctor as soon as possible.

What is the best treatment for head and neck cancer?

Fortunately, there are various treatment options available for head and neck cancer, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. While each patient’s treatment plan will vary based on their individual needs and circumstances, surgery is often an essential component of treatment, constituting the crux of head & neck cancer treatment.

A head and neck cancer surgeon removes the cancerous growth along with surrounding tissues. Depending on the position of cancer, the nature of the surgical treatment varies. For instance, in the case of thyroid cancer, the procedure involved is called thyroidectomy. On the other hand, parotidectomy is the name of the surgery used to remove a cancerous tumour in the parotid glands.

Cancer surgery is a complex procedure that requires the expertise of highly skilled surgeons and the latest technological advancements. The primary goal of surgery is to remove the tumour and any affected tissue while preserving the function of the surrounding organs and tissues.

In conclusion, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of voicing for this disease. There is also the need to spread awareness about the risk factors and symptoms of this type of cancer. Early detection and successful surgery can achieve positive outcomes and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.