Every year around 12,000 people in Britain are diagnosed with head and neck cancers, with Cancer Research UK saying incidence rates have increased by a third since the early 1990s. Leading head and neck cancer charity The Swallows has revealed how the number of people they’re supporting has quadrupled this year alone. There is currently a 90 percent chance a person will survive head and neck cancer if they are diagnosed early. If a person is diagnosed late, the statistics will drop as low as 40 percent. With these worrying statistics knowing the early symptoms of this disease is crucial.
“Despite it being the fastest growing type of cancer in the world, there’s still a lack of awareness around head and neck cancer tumours.
There are certain key symptoms you need to look out for as some of them are less well known.”
One of the key symptoms, which may not necessarily be associated with cancer, is persistently blocked ears – the type you might get after diving into a swimming pool or persistent earache.
Other signs and symptoms to look out for
Chris added: “Sore gums, ulcers and pain in your teeth, white or red patches in the mouth are also tell-tale symptoms. Most people might shrug it off and put it down to an ulcer.
“A doctor may also dismiss it and send you to the dentist. but it could well be a cancerous lesion that’s growing and it’s easy to miss.”
There are other ‘classic’ signs that trouble is in store. Chris, who himself is a throat cancer survivor, said: “A cough or sore throat that lasts more than two weeks, or if you have any voice changes or hoarseness, should ring alarm bells.
“Meanwhile tiredness is another big factor. As the tumour grows, it saps all your energy. Before I was diagnosed, I was falling asleep in my chair every night at 9pm.
“I just thought I was working too hard. You should demand a free oral screening every time you go to see your dentist.
“It takes them just 60 seconds to check you. They know what to look for in the mouth and they’ve been trained on oral screening for cancer.”