Head and Neck Cancer Awareness week is April 21-27, 2008.

Say Ahhhh! See, that was easy!

headandneckca_mediumScreening is quick and painless. It involves just a few minutes of looking in the mouth and throat with a light and feeling the salivary glands, thyroid glands and neck lymph nodes. Any knot or abnormality that lasts more than two weeks calls for a closer examination. For example, a red or white patch on the tongue, a change in the voice or a lump on the neck should be evaluated by a physician or dentist.

Do you know the Oral Head and Neck Cancer Risk Factors?

Tobacco (including smokeless tobacco) and alcohol use are the most important risk factors for head and neck cancers, particularly those of the tongue, mouth, throat and voice box.

Eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use. People who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk for developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone. (Source: National Cancer Institute)

Over the past decade, an increasing number of young, non-smokers have developed mouth and throat cancer associated with the human papilloma virus, or HPV. Today, 25 percent, or 10,000 cases each year, might be attributable to a strain of HPV. Physicians and researchers believe this might be due to an increase in oral sex as part of early sexual experience.

Thyroid cancers can develop in anyone, although there often is a family history or exposure to radiation involved. Salivary gland cancers also do not seem to be associated with any particular cause.

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