Cancer of the head and neck is curable if caught early. Fortunately, most head and neck cancers produce early symptoms.
You should know the warning signs so you can discuss your simptoms with your doctor as soon as possible.
Cancers that begin in the head or neck usually spread to lymph nodes in the neck before they spread elsewhere. If you have a lump in your neck lasting more than two weeks, you should see your physician as soon as possible. These lumps are generally painless and continue to enlarge steadily.
Luckily, not all lumps are cancer. But a lump (or lumps) in the neck can be the first sign of cancer of the mouth, throat, voicebox (larynx), thyroid, gland, lymph nodes (lymphomas) or blood cancers (leukemia). Early detection significantly increases the chances for successful treatment.
Most cancer in the larynx (voice box) causes some change in your voice. Any hoarseness or other voice change lasting more than two weeks should alert you to see your physician. An ear, nose and throat specialist has been specifically trained to examine your vocal chords in the office. While most voice changes are not caused by cancer, you shouldn't take chances. If you are hoarse for more than two weeks, see your doctor to make sure you don't have cancer of the larynx.
Change in the voice...
Find is Early and be CURED
Here's what you should watch for:
50,000 Americans will develop head and neck cancer this year; 5,000 of them will die; and most of this is preventable?
A growth in the mouth...
Most cancers of the mouth or tongue cause a sore or swelling that doesn't go away. These may be painless, unless they become infected. Bleeding may occur, but often not until late in the disease. If an ulcer or swelling is accompanied by lumps in the neck, be very concerned. Your doctor or dentist can determine if a biopsy (tissue sample test) is needed. If necessary, he or she can refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist to perform this procedure and follow up.
Bringing up blood...
If blood appears in your saliva or phlegm for more than a few days, you should see your physician. This can be caused by something other than cancer (e.g., bleeding gums). However, tumors in the nose, mouth, throat, or lungs can cause bleeding.
Did you know...
Cancer of the throat or esophagus may make swalling solid foods difficult. Sometimes even liquids can be troublesome. The food may stick at a certain point and then either go through to the stomach or come back up. if you have trouble almost every time you try to swallow something, you should be examined by a physician. Usually a barium swallow x-ray or an esophagoscopy (direct examination of the esophogus with a telescope) will be performed to find the cause.
Changes in the skin...
The most common head and neck cancer is basal cell cancer of the skin. Fortunately, early treatment can help assure a cure and reduce the chances of any major complications.
Basal cell cancers appear most often on sun-exposed areas like the forehead, face, nose and ears, although they can occur anywhere on the skin. Basal cell cancer often begins as a small, pale patch that enlarges or grows slowly, producing a central "dimple" and eventually an ulcer (open sore). Parts of the ulcer may heal, but the major portion remains unhealed. Some basal cell cancers show color changes (e.g., become darker).
Other kinds of cancer, including squamous cell cancer and malignant melanoma, can also occur on the skin of the head and neck. Most squamous cell cancers occur on the lower lip and ear. They may look like basal cell cancers, and if caught early with proper treatment, they are not much more dangerous. if there is a sore on your lip, lower face, or ear that does not heal, consult your physician.