Head and neck cancer: causes, symptoms, and treatment

Head and neck cancer: causes, symptoms, and treatment

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Oral cancer, also known as mouth cancer, describes
different tumours which affect different parts of the mouth. Tumours may arise in the tongue,
the floor of mouth, the lining of the cheeks, the roof of the mouth, the soft panitch, as
well as the lips. Tumours may also arise in glands producing saliva. These include the
parotid glands on the sides of the face – these extend into the neck, as well as the submandibular
glands and sublingual glands. Mouth cancers may present in different ways as either lumps
or ulcers. Overall, if an area is present in the mouth and hasn’t healed after a period
of two weeks, these ought to be examined more closely. One of the most important causes of cancer
of the mouth is smoking. Smoking and tobacco use in its various forms are strongly associated
with cancers of the mouth. And these include using cigars and tobacco in the form of betel nuts
or areca nuts. There is no safe quantity in terms of cigarette smoking and the evidence
for using e-cigarettes has not yet been proven. Alcohol is also strongly associated
with developing mouth cancer. And in particular, smoking and alcohol have an enormous doubling
effect increasing the risk greater than the general population. Recently, studies have
demonstrated an association of human papillomavirus with cancers of the throat in particular.
HPV is a virus that is known to cause genital warts. There is much interest in this area in
relation to prognosis and improvement of outcomes. The symptoms of mouth cancer are variable.
In particular, if you develop an ulcer which fails to heal after a period of two weeks,
this ought to be investigated more closely. Lumps which develop in the mouth without a
reasonable explanation which don’t disappear again after two weeks should be investigated
further. Persistent lumps in the neck, these may be painful or painless, which do not disappear
after a period of two to three weeks should also be examined carefully. If your teeth
become loose without an obvious cause or if you have had a tooth extracted recently by your
dentist and the socket has failed to heal, these may be signs which warrant further investigation
for mouth cancer. If you are a denture wearer and you found that your dentures are now ill-fitting,
it’s important to have a specialist examine the areas under the denture for a potential
cause. Any numbness that you experience in the face. For example, in the lower lip or
upper face under the eye, also needs to be examined carefully. You may notice red or
white patches inside the mouth. The majority of these are potentially cancerous and that
these can be excluded with some very simple investigations. If you find that your speech
has changed and you are lisping for example, this may well be a sign that warrants further
investigation by a specialist. Approximately 7,000 people are diagnosed with
mouth cancer every year in the United Kingdom. This represents approximately 2% of all cancers
diagnosed. These cancers are more common in the older age group age 50 to 74 and about
one in eight individuals under 50 years old will be diagnosed with mouth cancer. This
group of individuals are thought to have HPV associated mouth cancer. Overall, men are
more commonly diagnosed with mouth cancer than women. And this is thought to be due
to the fact that men consume more alcohol than women. Probably the most important thing you can
do is not to smoke cigarettes or utilise tobacco in any of its various forms. It’s also important
to consume less than 14 units of alcohol per week and that alcohol should be spread out
over the week rather than being concentrated over the weekend. A healthy balanced Mediterranean
style diet is helpful. And this needs to be rich particularly in tomatoes, citrus fruits,
and vegetables as well as olive oils and fish. Regular checkups with your dentist are also
important as your dentist is trained in spotting the early signs of mouth cancer. The first step in diagnosing mouth cancer
is to obtain a biopsy. A small sample of tissue is taken and examined under the microscope.
This will confirm that the diagnosis and the cancer type. We use a variety of imaging to
help understand whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. In particularly
into the neck or chest. A combination of ultrasound scans, with or without a needle test to obtain
fluid from a lump in the neck for example, a CT scan, or MRI scanning may be used. Occasionally,
advanced imaging such as PET CT scanning will also be required. Once all the investigations
are completed, your cancer will be staged. This occurs in a multidisciplinary team meeting
with a variety of cancer specialists including radio therapists and other surgical specialities.
From this point onwards, you will have a treatment plan prior to proceeding to surgery in most
cases.

4 thoughts on “Head and neck cancer: causes, symptoms, and treatment”

  1. Hi i have a bad mouth sore lips and scabs sore in the mouth will not go away i had some antibiotic and anti fungl and difflam did not work it all started in jan this year 2019 after having botox when to the hospital urgent care they did not know what it was got sent up to the max doctor he did not know what it was went back to urgent care a doctor there told me it was impotigo and put me on antibiotic did not help went back to see my GP he told me it was not impotigo and now they are fast tracking it for me

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