27th July is observed as World Head & Neck Cancer Day every year all over the world. Increasing awareness about head and neck cancer among people is the goal of observing this day. Often cancers develop in the mouth, nose, throat, larynx, sinuses and salivary glands. These cancers are collectively known as head and neck cancer. Over 500000 cases of head and neck cancer are found worldwide and about 200000 deaths happen worldwide. In many parts of the world, it is the leading cause of mortality and disability. People in the productive age-group are mainly affected by this disease yet prevention of the mortality and morbidity is possible. The International Federation of Head and Neck Oncology Societies declared 27th July as World Head & Neck Cancer Day (WHNCD) to draw the world’s attention on effective care and control of head and neck cancer.

How common are head and neck cancers?

As a cancer specialist will tell you, among men, head and neck cancers are twice as common as they are among women. People over 50 years of age are more diagnosed with head and neck cancer than people of young age.

How can the risk of developing head and neck cancers be reduced?

People who use tobacco and others who are at risk of developing head and neck cancers should consult the best oncologist about the ways they can reduce their risk. Regular check-ups must also be done by them.

What are the symptoms and signs of head and neck cancer?

The following are the symptoms and signs of head and neck cancer:

  • There is a swelling or a sore that does not heal

  • In the mouth, there is a red or white patch

  • In the head or neck area, there is a lump, bump or mass with or without pain

  • There is a persistent sore throat

  • There is foul mouth odor that does not have any other cause

  • There is hoarseness or change in voice

  • There is a nasal obstruction or persistent nasal congestion

  • There is frequent nasal bleeding and/or unusual nasal damage

  • There is difficulty in breathing

  • There is double vision

  • There is numbness or weakness of a body part in the head and neck region

  • There is pain or difficulty in chewing, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue

  • There is jaw pain

  • Blood in saliva or mucus

  • There is the loosening of teeth

  • Dentures which cannot be fit anymore

  • There is unexplained weight loss

  • There is a sense of fatigue

  • There is ear pain or infection

How are head and neck cancers diagnosed?

The best head and neck cancer doctor evaluates a person’s medical history, performs a medical examination and orders diagnostic tests to find the cause of the symptoms and signs of a problem in the head and neck area. Depending on the symptoms, the exams and tests may vary. To confirm a diagnosis of cancer, examination of a sample of tissue under a microscope is always necessary.
If cancer is found by diagnosis, the doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) of it. To find out whether cancer has spread and if so, to which parts of the body, staging is an important attempt to find it out. The methods involved in staging are examination under anesthesia, x-rays and other imaging procedures and laboratory tests.

What are the treatment options for head and neck cancer?

Surgery is an important treatment option for head and neck cancer that is done by the best surgical oncologist. Laser technology, excision, lymph node dissection or neck dissection and reconstructive (plastic) surgery are different types of surgery. The other head and neck cancer treatment options are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy.