Head and neck cancer will affect more than 55,000 American’s this year. Luckily, most head and neck cancers are not only preventable, they also show early warning signs. Remember the key to treating cancer is early detection.
Premier Medical ENT physician, Dr. Brian Sullivan shared his thoughts on head and neck cancer, read his interview below:
Q: What are the most common ENT problems that can be head neck cancer? Did the patient know their symptoms were head and neck cancer?
A: I find most of my patients are aware they have a problem, but I have seen patients who had no idea their symptoms were cancer. I feel this happens most frequently with complaints of ear pain. It’s common for problems in the throat to refer to pain in the ears. Patient’s will sometimes think their ear pain is the source of their discomfort or problem when really they have a tumor in their throat.
Q: What are common symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer?
A: The most common symptoms of head and neck cancer include a sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing (feeling a “lump” in the throat) – even without pain, or noticing a lump in the neck.
Q: What are the warning signs of Head and Neck Cancer?
A: Warning signs can sometimes be subtle, but paying close attention to symptoms such as a sore throat, hoarseness, and any lumps or bumps developing in the neck, are important.
Q: Does Head and Neck Cancer occur a certain age?
A: Anyone, at any age, can develop oral cancer. People ages 50 to 60’s are the most common age group seen for most head and neck cancers. It is important that younger people (or anyone for that matter) do not ignore symptoms that are concerning as early stage diagnosis and treatment is very important in overall disease prognosis.
Q: Is Head and Neck Cancer preventable?
A: There are steps you can take to lower your risk for cancer. Smoking is the greatest risk factor for the most common types of head and neck cancer. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk for these problems. In combination together the effect is even greater.
Keep in mind that earlier detection of cancer can provide a wider array of treatment options. Treating a small, early stage tumor, before it has a chance to spread is easier and provides much better outcomes.
Q: How does Premier Medical treat Head and Neck Cancer?
A: Premier Medical physicians offer a vast array of surgical options for various head and neck cancers. These treatment options include primary tumor removal and regional lymph node dissections if necessary. We have surgeons who can perform the latest techniques in head and cancer surgery including laser resections and robotic assisted resections if indicated.
We also work closely with radiation oncologists and medical oncologists if radiation or chemotherapy are needed for treatment. The most important part of a comprehensive cancer treatment is post-treatment surveillance, which we assist in for all of our patient’s regardless of treatment type.