Head And Neck Cancer Awareness Month 2024

Aishwarya Pillai

, News

April marks Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, aimed at increasing public understanding of these cancers, their risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options. It also encourages steps to reduce cancer risk and promote early detection and treatment.


Head and neck cancers are a group of cancers affecting the mouth, throat, nose, sinuses, and surrounding areas. Tobacco and alcohol use are major risk factors, especially for oral cavity, larynx, and pharynx cancers. Exposure to certain chemicals like asbestos and wood dust can also increase risk.


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In India, head and neck cancer is the most common type, accounting for 30% of all cancer cases according to ICMR estimates. Around 140,000 new cases are reported yearly, with a much higher incidence in males.


If at increased risk, discuss screening options like physical exams, CT scans, or MRIs with your doctor. Adopting healthy habits like good oral hygiene, sun protection with hats/sunscreen, and avoiding UV exposure is crucial for prevention.


Regular oral self-exams can help detect potential warning signs early. Look for color/texture changes, non-healing sores, lumps/bumps, growths, or swelling in the mouth, lips, and throat area.


Some lesser-known facts:


  • Head and neck cancer is the 6th most common globally, with 630,000 new cases yearly.
  • HPV infection increases risk of oropharyngeal cancer. HPV vaccination helps prevent it.
  • Symptoms may include persistent sore throat, swallowing/chewing difficulties, hoarseness, lumps, or non-healing sores.


Reducing risk involves quitting all tobacco/alcohol use, maintaining good oral hygiene, using sun protection, getting the HPV vaccine, and eating a balanced diet with fruits/vegetables. Regular checkups and promptly reporting unusual symptoms are vital.


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