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50 Facts about Oral, Head and Neck Cancer

  1. "Oral head and neck cancer" typically refers to squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue, throat, and voice box. However, "head and neck cancer" also refers to other types of cancer that arises in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid glands, salivary glands, throat, or voice box.
  2. Worldwide, over 550,000 new cases of oral head and neck cancer are diagnosed each year.
  3. Approximately, 110,000 people are diagnosed with oral head and neck cancer every year in the United States.
  4. Cancers of the head and neck account for six percent of all cancers in the United States.
  5. 66 percent of the time, oral head and neck cancers will be found as late stage three and four diseases. 
  6. Men are affected about twice as often as women with oral head and neck cancer.
  7. Tobacco and alcohol use are the leading causes of mouth and voice box cancers.
  8. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of head and neck cancer by 15 times compared to a non-smoker.
  9. People who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk than people who use only one or the other.
  10. Oral head and neck cancer tends to form in the areas where tobacco/alcohol use has the most contact. For example, where the cigarette sits on the lip, or where the chewing tobacco is placed in the mouth.
  11. Chewing tobacco causes mouth cancer.
  12. Annually in the U.S., over 10,000 new caes of oral head and neck cancer can be attributed to a particular strain of HPV.
  13. Human papillomavirus (HPV) may be related to over half of tonsil cancers.
  14. HPV is responsible for the rise in cancers of the oropharynx (tonsil and base of tongue) in younger non-smokers and is related to oral sex. The more oral sex partners, the greater the risk of HPV cancer.
  15. Over the past ten years, more young, non-smokers have developed HPV related cancer of the tonsils and tongue base (back of tongue).
  16. Caucasians are more likely to develop head and neck cancer, but African Americans are more likely to die from head and neck cancer.
  17. A red or white patch in the mouth or a sore throat can be the first signs of cancers of the mouth and throat. 
  18. Hoarseness or a change in the voice can be the first sign of cancer of the voice box.
  19. Signs of oral head and neck cancer: a sore in your mouth that doesn’t heal, sore throat, lumps or patches in your mouth, trouble swallowing, changes in your voice, and a lump in your neck. 
  20. Most oral cancers form on the lips, tongue, or floor of the mouth. They also may happen inside your cheeks, on your gums, or on the roof of your mouth. 
  21. Oropharyngeal cancer is different from mouth and lip cancer. Oropharyngeal cancer is often related to HPV and occurs in the tonsil or tongue base. In contrast, oral cancers are in the mouth and are often caused by tobacco and alcohol use.
  22. Most head and neck cancers can be prevented.
  23. Head and neck cancers often spread to the lymph nodes of the neck.
  24. Once cancer is in the lympth notes, it is more likely to spread throughout the body.
  25. Patients with cancers treated in the early stages may have little post treatment disfigurement.
  26. It is estimated that approximately $3.2 billion is spent in the United States each year on treatment of head and neck cancers.
  27. Surgery and radiation therapy are the most common treatments designed to stop the spread of cancer by killing and/or removing the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy may be added in certain situations for advanced disease.
  28. Treatment of head and neck cancers requires the assistance of many different professionals, such as surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and speech therapists.
  29. About half of throat cancers occur in the larynx (voice box). 
  30. Because of the location of head and neck cancer, it often affects breathing, eating, drinking, voice, speaking, and appearance. 
  31. 50 percent of people with head and neck cancers have very advanced cases by the time they first see a doctor. 
  32. In the US, a new head and neck cancer case is diagnosed every 10 minutes and a person dies from this disease every 45 minutes. 
  33. If an adult has a neck mass that does not go away, a needle biopsy and/or CT Scan may be necessary to diagnose the cause.
  34. Red patches in the mouth that are persistent, and do not have an obvious cause can develop into cancer about 20-30 percent of the time. Removal is highly recommended. 
  35. In the past two decades, the incidence of throid cancer has increased in all races and both sexes. 
  36. Thyroid cancers account for over 55,000 new cancers each year in the U.S.
  37. Thyroid cancer is more common in women than in men.
  38. Thyroid cancer can develop in anyone, although there often is a family history or exposure to radiation involved. Salivary glands also do not seem to be related to any particular cause.
  39. Only about 1 in 20 thyroid nodules are cancerous.
  40. In general, thyroid cancer is one of the least deadly cancers of the head and neck. 
  41. The two most common types of thyroid cancer are called papillary carcinoma and follicular carcinoma.
  42. The most common type of cancer in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses is squamous cell carcinoma. It makes up a little over a half of the cancers.
  43. Cancers of the nose and sinuses are rare; about 2,000 people develop these cancers every year. 
  44. Sinus cancer should be considered when someone has frequent nose bleeds, numbness of the cheek, facial swelling or pain.
  45. People who work in environments with dust, glues, formaldehyde, mustard gas, certain heavy metals, and radium are at higher risk for developing nose or sinus cancer.
  46. Environmental factors such as exposure to sunilght can cause skin cancer, melanoma including cancers of the lips.
  47. Every year there are about two cases per every 100,000 people of salivary cancer.
  48. The average age that salivary cancer is found is 64.
  49. There are several different salivary glands found inside and near the mouth. Each gland is made up of several differenct types of salivary gland cells. Because cancer can start in any of these different types of cells, in any of these different types of glands, salivary cancer is not just one disease. There are many different types of salivary gland cancer. 
  50. Oral head and neck cancer awareness week (OHANCAW) can be started by anyone, in any town or clinic, and can help educated people on the early diagnosis of these cancers.

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