Everyone knows that smoking increases a person’s risk of cancer.
Researchers know that the lining of mucus that protects head and neck structures such as the mouth and throat can be damaged by exposure to tobacco and alcohol.
Chemicals in tobacco damage DNA.
Alcohol has not been proven to damage DNA and increase the penetration of DNA-damaging chemicals into cells.
Using any tobacco product—cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, or snuff—increases one’s risk of cancer of the esophagus.
People who smoke and drink heavily should get regular medical checkups and watch for the warning signs of head and neck cancer, which include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, persistent sores and swelling in the mouth, voice changes, blood in the phlegm or saliva, trouble swallowing, constant throat pain or earaches, and any skin changes on the face, scalp, or neck.
Regular follow-up care is very important after treatment for head and neck cancer.
How are head and neck cancers diagnosed?
-Physical examination may include visual inspection of the oral and nasal cavities, neck, throat, and tongue using a small mirror and/or lights.
-Laboratory tests examine samples of blood, urine, or other substances from the body.
-X-rays create images of areas inside the head and neck on film.
-CT (or CAT) scan is a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the head and neck created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.
-Magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create detailed pictures of areas inside the head and neck.
-PET scan uses sugar that is modified in a specific way so it is absorbed by cancer calls and appears as dark areas on the scan.
– Endoscopy is the use of a thin, lighted tube called an endoscope to examine areas inside the body.