Ten Minutes Can Save Your Life

Ten Minutes Can Save Your Life

May 4, 2011 2:24 PM

Salt Lake City—Just because you can’t feel it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. That’s the message that physicians at Huntsman Cancer Institute want people to understand about the dangers of head and neck cancers. 

According to the American Cancer Society, head and neck cancers represent the sixth most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than 50,000 cases diagnosed annually. Last year, Academy Award-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas made the news when he was diagnosed with advanced throat cancer. While he has since announced “a complete response” to treatment, 12,000 others died from some form of the disease last year.

“When oral, head and neck cancers are diagnosed early, these potentially deadly diseases can be more easily treated with a higher chance of survival,” said Brandon Bentz, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Surgery, Division of Otolaryngology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and a surgical oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute. “People may not recognize the symptoms of these cancers, which is why everyone needs to be screened.”

The signs and symptoms of oral cancer may go unnoticed.  However, there are signs associated with these cancers that require immediate medical attention, including:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth that last more than two weeks
  • Change in voice or hoarseness that lasts more than two weeks
  • Sore throat that does not subside
  • Pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not subside
  • Lump in the neck
  • Ear pain
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

 Because 85 percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use, the most effective prevention strategy continues to be the discontinuation of smoking or the use of chewing tobacco. Excessive alcohol consumption can compound these risks of developing this type of cancer. Even more alarming, this disease is also on the upswing in young adults, being linked to the rise of human papillomavirus (HPV), a cancer-causing virus that can be transmitted through oral sex.

For more information call the Huntsman Cancer Learning Center at 1-888-424-2100.

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Media Contacts

Linda Aagard
Public Relations Director ,
Cell Phone: 801-587-7639
Email: linda.aagard@hci.utah.edu

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