Recent studies have shown that about 90% of oral, head, and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinoma (cancerous cells in the lining of the mouth, throat, and voice box). In the past, these cancers were common in men in their 60s and 70s, weighty smokers and drinkers. Research has also revealed that in regions where tobacco and betel nut use is very high, oral cancer is very prevalent.
However, these cancers are now prevalent in young people, both male, and female. While tobacco and alcohol are the main contributors to the increase in head and neck cancer, HPV and other viruses are also blamed for the new rates. The chances of survival and quality of life of a head and neck cancer patient largely depend on the primary tumor’s size at the first detection. So, to improve your chances of survival, the malignant cells in your body have to be detected when they are still small in size.
How to Detect Head and Neck Cancer?
Unfortunately, there is still no official screening test for head and neck cancer. Therefore, doctors rely on physical examination of the patient’s mouth, neck, and ears. Normally, the doctor looks for white or red spots in the mouth, pain in the mouth, ear pain, or any other sign of concern. In most cases, head and neck cancers present a lump in the neck or mouth as the first sign.
These lumps can be asymptomatic at times because they are too small and hidden in the back of your throat. Therefore, most patients are diagnosed with the disease when it’s already too late – when cancer has already spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes. Although most cancers at this stage are treatable, early detection is imperative. The earlier the doctor catches this cancer, the higher your chances are of surviving.
Therefore, it is advisable to go for regular dental checkups because they offer your doctor the best opportunity to detect any signs of head and neck cancer. Once detected, your doctor will recommend the best treatment method. Normally, head and neck cancer patients undergo surgery to remove the tumor. Fortunately, your doctor can use numerous, highly advanced surgical procedures to improve your quality of life. They will also advise you on how to prevent the disease from reoccurring.