Facts for Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – According to the National Cancer Institute, head and neck cancers account for nearly four percent of all cancers in the United States. These types of cancers are in the spotlight in April because its head and neck cancer awareness month.

According to Dr. Bobby Newman, with Atrium Health Navicent, head and neck cancers can be involved in any body part from the lips down to the vocal cords. Dr. Newman said the first signs of head and neck cancers are a neck mass or a pain in the throat that lasts more than 4-6 weeks.

Dr. Newman said most head and neck cancers are caused by heavy tobacco or alcohol use, but in the last decade there’s been an increase from human papillomavirus, or HPV.

“We’re fortunate now to have Gardasil, which is a vaccine against this virus,” said Dr. Newman. “Vaccination may eradicate that part of the disease eventually.”

Dr. Newman said the type of treatment a patient receives for head and neck cancers depends on where it starts. He said a lot of the time patients have surgery first and then chemotherapy and radiation.

Dr. Newman said the biggest thing people can do to avoid getting head and neck cancers is avoid smoking and abusing alcohol.

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