Head and neck cancer

Certain types of cancers can originate from cells of mucosal surface inside the mouth, the nose and the throat, even can begin in the salivary glands. These cancers are collectively known as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck and have an incidence of 600,000 new cases per year, with a mortality rate of 40-50%.

Smoking and excessive alcohol use are the main risk factor for this type of cancer, according the National Cancer Institute 75% of head and neck cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol use. Nowadays it is known that infection with papillomaviruses (HPVs) causes a substantial and rising proportion of these tumors, particularly oropharyngeal cancers involving tonsils of the base of the tongue. Known risk factors are preserved or salted food, poor oral hygiene, Epstein-Barr virus infection, among others.

Some signals that are important to pay attention to in the mouth are: white or red sore that sore not heal on the gums, tongue or lining of the mouth, swelling in the jaw, unusual bleeding or pain in the mouth and lumps or thickening. In the pharynx: trouble breathing or speaking, lumps or thickening, trouble chewing or swallowing food, constant pain in the throat, pain or ringing in the ears or trouble hearing. In the nasal cavity: Bleeding through the nose, headaches, pain in the upper teeth, pain and swelling around the eyes.

For reducing the risk of getting theses cancer, the US centers of disease control and prevention (CDC) recommends to quit smoking, limit the amount of alcohol ingestion, talk to your doctor about HPV vaccination, use condoms and dental dams consistently and correctly during oral sex, use lip balm that contains sunscreen,  avoid indoor tanning and visit the dentist regularly. It is crucial if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above and, present the risk factors to check with your General practitioner to dismiss the chance this terrible disease.