Head Neck Cancer
female doctor and female patient

Did You Know? A Few Facts About Head And Neck Cancer

Posted on March 27, 2018 by Henry Ford Health Staff

Head and neck cancer affects more than 55,000 people in the U.S. each year and accounts for approximately 3% of all cancer cases in the country. This type of cancer can occur in the mouth, throat, larynx (voice box), swallowing passages, nasal passages and salivary glands.

Here are some basic facts about head and neck cancer.

Who is most at risk for head and neck cancer?

While tobacco and alcohol use increase the risk for most head and neck cancers, certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) now account for more than half of all cases of oropharyngeal cancer, which affects part of the throat, base of tongue, tonsils and soft palate (back of the mouth). Most cases occur in people over the age of 40.

What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer?

Head and neck cancer symptoms can be vague, but warning signs include hoarseness, persistent throat and ear pain for more than four weeks. Other symptoms include mouth sores that won’t heal or a lump in the neck. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor.

What does a head and neck cancer screening consist of? 

Even if you are not experiencing symptoms, it could still be a good idea to get screened, especially if you might be at higher risk. (You can talk to your doctor to determine your head and neck cancer risk factors.)

"Finding cancer early can save lives and decrease side effects from treatment, especially since the head and neck are so important to our daily functioning," says Samantha Tam, M.D., an otolaryngologist at Henry Ford Health.

That’s why Henry Ford and other health systems host free head and neck cancer screenings each year, an effort led by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance.

A head and neck screening generally takes about 10 minutes and includes:

  • Completing a short paper questionnaire to assess your risk for head and neck cancer
  • A private, sit-down meeting with a medical expert who will use a tongue-depressor to look inside your mouth and throat

It’s a simple and painless cancer screening that could save your life.

Reviewed by Samantha Tam, M.D., an otolaryngologist who sees patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Henry Ford Cancer - Detroit and Henry Ford Medical Center - Fairlane.

To make an appointment with a Henry Ford physician, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Categories : FeelWell

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