The Brazilian Head and Neck Cancer Group (GBCP), alluding to the Green July, month of awareness about cancer that affects the head and neck region, launches the campaign “Signs that can change histories”, with actions that seek the involvement of society, the press, managers and health professionals, opinion formers and educators so that the maximum number of people, of all age groups, get to know the disease and know about the causes, symptoms, how to prevent it and how to do self-examination to identify suspicious changes. Contrary to what happens in other organs, when cancer affects the head and neck region, the disease can be visible or palpable. Despite this, the signs are not noticed in most cases. In Brazil, eight out of 10 cases of cancer that affect, for example, the oral cavity, are discovered at an advanced stage.
As a consequence, late diagnosis results in a lower chance of disease control, worse quality of life for the patient, higher morbidity and mortality rates, higher risk of mutilation due to the need for more extensive surgeries, greater complexity of other treatment modalities. and greater demand for facial reconstruction, as well as more challenges in patient rehabilitation.
Also read: Cancer Survivors: Less Grudge and More Willingness.
Signs that can change stories
Another highlight of the campaign is the special series with stories of patients who have gone through the disease, explaining how a sign changed the lives of each one of them.
What are the warning signs of head and neck cancer
- Mouth sore that does not heal (most common symptom)
- Mouth pain that does not go away (also very common, but in later stages)
- Persistent lump or thickening in the cheek
- red or white area on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- Throat irritation or feeling like something is stuck or stuck in the throat
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
- Swelling of the jaw that causes the denture or denture to miss or become uncomfortable
- Teeth that become loose or soft in the gums or pain around the teeth or jaw
- voice changes
- Enlarged nodules or nodes in the neck
- Weight loss
- persistent bad breath
Also read: How to be a cancer survivor?
Many of these signs and symptoms can be caused by other types of cancer or by benign conditions. It is important to consult your doctor or dentist if any of these symptoms persist for more than two weeks. The earlier the diagnosis is made and treatment started, the greater the chances of success:
Head and neck cancer in Brazil and in the world
In Brazil, the most common types of head and neck cancer are those of the oral cavity and larynx in men and thyroid cancer in women.
Risk factors are known and the disease is preventable
There is, therefore, a common factor in head and neck tumors: they are preventable. To be more exact, about 40% of cases can be avoided.
How to prevent yourself?
- do not smoke
- Do not consume alcoholic beverages in excess
- Vaccinate against Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Do oral hygiene correctly
- Use sunscreen, including on your lips.
“Everyone’s contribution to this cause is very important. Together, we can amplify and build a solid information base that breaks down the unknown and generates transformation. We want correct and up-to-date information about head and neck cancer to reach all health professionals and the population in general”, emphasizes the GBCP president, Thiago Bueno.
Why is early diagnosis so important?
Data on oral cavity and larynx cancer from the SEER survey, from the US National Cancer Institute (NCI), indicate that 86.3% of patients are alive five years after treatment when the tumor was initial, located only in the organ. When the disease spreads to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate drops to 69%. With distant disease (metastasis) the rate is 40.4%.
Check the incidence of cancer in men and women in Brazil
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