RADIATION THERAPY FOR HEAD AND NECK
Facts to Help Patients Understand Their Treatment
Radiation Treatment for Head & Neck Cancer
Facts about Head and Neck Cancer
This year, approximately 61,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and thyroid.
- More than 25 percent of oral cancers occur in people with no risk factors and who do not smoke.
- Rates of head and neck cancer are nearly twice as high in males and are highest in men over age 50.
Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancer
Using tobacco and alcohol greatly increases the chance of developing head and neck cancer. Risk factors include:
- Alcohol consumption.
- Smoking or using smokeless tobacco, such as chew or dip.
- Exposure to wood or nickel dust or asbestos.
- Plummer-Vinson syndrome (disorder from nutritional deficiencies).
- Exposure to viruses, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr.
The benefits of quitting smoking begin immediately.
- For patients with head and neck cancer, quitting smoking lowers the risks of infections and developing other cancers.
- For assistance in quitting smoking, ask your doctor or visit www.smokefree.gov.
Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer
Although there are sometimes no signs of head and neck cancer, common symptoms include:
- A lump or sore that does not heal.
- A sore throat that does not go away.
- Difficulty or pain in swallowing.
- Change in the voice or hoarseness.
- Blood in the saliva or from the nose.
- Ear pain or loss of hearing.
- Lump in the neck.
- Nasal stuffiness that does not go away.
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