Head & Neck Cancer: Raising Awareness for Early Detection | Dr Ritu Dave | Cancer Physician | MOC Pune


Head & Neck Cancers are a group of cancers that affect all the organs of mouth or oral cavity like tongue, buccal mucosa, gingiva & floor of mouth etc. as well as nose, throat, vocal cords & other parts of the head and neck. ‘Squamous cells’ of these organs are affected in the disease, causing them to become cancerous. Therefore, Head and neck cancers are also called ‘squamous cell carcinomas of head and neck'. Head and neck cancers constitute more than 30% of all cancers in India, primarily due to the rampant use of tobacco. Hence the cancers of Oral Cavity are common in India.

Diagnosis of head and neck cancers is considerably difficult because of sheer ignorance, especially among the tobacco users. Symptoms often tend to mimic less serious conditions like a sore throat, cold, hoarse voice, pain in the teeth, a lump in the neck, etc. Symptoms like these which are persistent for more than 2 weeks can be an early sign of cancer and need to be thoroughly examined.

Tobacco use is by far the most common risk factor for developing head and neck cancer, followed by alcohol consumption & certain viral infections like HPV or EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus). Other possible risk factors include a weakened immune system, radiation exposure, consumption of too many processed foods and poor dental hygiene. 

Diagnostic tests include physical examination, endoscopy, X-ray, CT scans, MRI and PET scans, biopsy and some laboratory tests. Upon identification of the symptoms, your family physician, cancer physician / oncologist may advice these tests for diagnosis of Head & Neck Cancers.  

The mainstay treatment methods for head and neck cancer management are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. However, advancements in the medical field are now enabling patients to be treated with targeted therapy and immunotherapy as well. Mumbai Oncocare Centre provides state-of-the art treatment, including the highly effective targeted therapy and immunotherapy for the treatment of head and neck cancer. 

Early detection of head and neck cancer is the key to longer survival and better quality of life. Once they spread to the lymph nodes and other nearby organs, chances of survival may reduce.

Upon identification of related symptoms, it is recommended to take consultation with a family doctor or an oncologist (cancer physician) for timely evaluation and appropriate care. Regular health checks are very important, especially if you or your loved ones are at risk of developing head and neck cancer. With early detection and effective treatment, many people with head and neck cancer can be completely cured.

Dr Ritu Dave
Consultant Cancer Physician
Mumbai Oncocare, Pune
9769773595 / 9769771595

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