The term “head and neck cancer” can refer to cancers affecting a number of specific regions within this larger section of the body. Often, it means cancers impacting the mouth, throat, and nose. Although cancer emerging in these areas is often out of the affected individual’s control, there are a number of behaviors that significantly contribute to the development of head and neck cancer, particularly excessive use of tobacco (through smoking of cigarettes and cigars or chewing tobacco) and alcohol.
As with any type of cancer, it’s crucial that individuals catch head and neck cancers early in their development. In order to do so, it’s important that people recognize the signs and symptoms of cancers affecting the throat, nose, and mouth. This is particularly crucial for people whose family history or lifestyle increases their chances of developing these serious ailments.
1. Sore throat
A sore throat is rarely worth worrying about — after all, it can be caused by a range of fairly harmless afflictions, from over-exerting the voice muscles to seasonal allergies to the common cold. Generally speaking, a sore throat is either very temporary or just the first sign that a head cold is setting in.
However, a sore throat could indicate that an individual is developing throat cancer. While it can be difficult to distinguish between a common cold and throat cancer, in the latter case the pain will not go away after a few days or even weeks. In essence, if you develop a painful sore throat without any of the other symptoms of a head cold, and the sore throat doesn’t go away after a week or so, then it may be time to speak to a doctor about a thorough examination.