Raise awareness for Head and Neck Consciousness

April 26, 2024

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Head and neck cancer refers to a variety of cancers that impact the sinuses, larynx, mouth, throat, and nose. More than 12,000 cases of head and neck cancer diagnoses are reported in the Philippines each year, accounting for about 5% of all cancer cases diagnosed—third only to lung and breast cancer. Due to its alarming prevalence, Head and Neck Consciousness Week is observed annually during the last week of April. In this blog, we look into the key aspects of head and neck cancer, shedding light on its risks, symptoms, and treatment options.

There are several risk factors for head and neck cancer, some related to lifestyle choices and others to genetic predispositions. The use of alcohol and tobacco is a major factor in making heavy drinkers and smokers more vulnerable than most. Furthermore, it has been noted that infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), namely HPV-16, is a significant risk factor for head and neck malignancies. Other risk factors include long-term sun exposure (for lip cancer), bad dental hygiene, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables. 

As for the common symptoms of head and neck cancers, they may vary depending on the location and stage of the disease. Frequent symptoms include a chronic sore throat, trouble speaking or swallowing, a lump or swelling in the neck, hoarseness, ear pain, and unexplained weight loss. Even though these symptoms might not seem serious at first, any enduring or odd changes should be evaluated further by a medical expert.

When making a diagnosis, a combination of physical examination, imaging tests (such as CT and MRI scans), and biopsies is usually used. Depending on the kind and stage of the cancer, there are many treatment choices, but they frequently involve surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a mix. These treatments aim to eliminate the cancer while maintaining speech and swallowing abilities.

Receiving a diagnosis of this critical illness can be overwhelming, both for patients and their loved ones. Throughout the course of treatment, support groups and counseling programs could provide invaluable emotional support and practical guidance during such difficult times. Recovery and long-term survivability also requires continuous surveillance and lifestyle changes such as scheduling regular follow-up visits and embracing healthy living. Additionally, having the right insurance plan can be beneficial on the road to recovery. It is essential to be able to fight against critical illnesses without worrying about finances. This can be made possible with Paramount's PrimeHealth Cash Plan. For more information, visit https://plgic.ph/PrimeHealthCashPlan

Although head and neck cancer presents unique challenges, many people can have positive outcomes with early detection and advancements in treatment. By increasing people's knowledge of the symptoms, risk factors, and services accessible, we can give them the power to take charge of their head and neck health. Always remember that prevention and early intervention start with information.