Around 30-40% of all cancers in India are head and neck cancer
Signs of head and neck cancer include symptoms of oral cavity
Head and neck cancer treatment depends on the type and stage
One of the most common types of cancer around the world is head and neck cancer. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Cancer, around 30% to 40% of all cancers in India are in the head and neck region . Smoking and chewing tobacco are the major causes of such cancers. Head and neck cancer covers abnormal growth of cells in the mouth, throat, voice box, nose, and salivary glands.
These cancers generally take place in the squamous cells in the soft surfaces of the head and neck. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) constitutes over 90% of all head and neck cancer. Read on to understand head and neck cancer signs and symptoms and treatment options.
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The use of alcohol and tobacco including secondhand smoke are significant risk factors for head and neck cancer. People who consume alcohol and tobacco are at a greater risk of developing an oral cavity, hypopharynx, and voice box cancer.
In India, the consumption of betel quid (paan) is quite common and betel nut plays an important role in its preparation. However, they can put you at high risk of developing oral cancers.
Exposure to radiation can lead to developing cancerous cells in your salivary glands.
Direct exposure to ultraviolet light puts you at risk of head and neck cancer.
The cancer-causing type of human papillomavirus (HPV)  can cause oropharyngeal cancers  involving tonsils or the base of the tongue. Around 75% of all oropharyngeal cancers are a result of chronic HPV infection .
Exposure to certain types of jobs also poses a threat of head and neck cancer. For instance, people working in the construction, metal, ceramic, logging, textile, and food industries are at risk of voice box cancer. Similarly, industrial exposure to wood dust or nickel dust can cause paranasal sinuses and nasal cavities.
Nasopharyngeal cancer and salivary glands cancer can occur due to Epstein-Barr virus infection .
Certain ancestry can be a risk factor for cancer. Genetic disorders, for instance Fanconi anemia, can also increase the chances of developing cancers early in life .
The treatment received for head and neck cancer depends on the type of cancer and its stage. Recommended procedures include head and neck surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these. However, there are certain side effects of these treatments such as swallowing difficulty, hearing loss, or pain in the mouth, throat, and neck .
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In any type of cancer, an earlier diagnosis and treatment is vital. Avoid smoking tobacco, chewing betel nuts, and other unhealthy habits to prevent head and neck cancer. Consult a doctor if you observe any symptoms such as neck cancer lump or neck pain. Cancer can occur at any stage in life. Book an online doctor consultation on Bajaj Finserv Health if you are at risk and get immediate treatment.