Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week


What is OHANCAW?

YOU can start your own OHANCAW in your hometown! Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®) is a weeklong series of events that aim to educate the public about these potentially life-threatening but eminently treatable cancers and to promote prevention, screening and early detection. OHANCAW is highlighted by the free screenings and related activities held at participating medical centers across the country. The screenings are quick, painless, and designed to advance early diagnosis, which can lead to better outcomes. OHANCAW is sponsored by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA).

When is OHANCAW? The 16th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week is April 14-20, 2013. The primary focus of our media efforts will be directed toward awareness activities occurring during this week, but HNCA is encouraging all supporters to pick a week during the year that works best for their group to host a free screening event. For more information, go to www.headandneck.org, e-mail info@ohancaw.com or call 866-792-4622.

Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Facts Oral, Head and Neck cancer refers to many types of cancers but includes those that arise in the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, thyroid glands, salivary glands, throat or larynx (voice box). According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 109,070 new cases of cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, throat and thyroid, and an estimated 13,280 deaths from these cancers were expected in 2012. Cancers of the oropharynx (tonsil and base of tongue) are increasing in incidence particularly in younger nonsmokers and these cancers alone account for approximately 30,000 cases per year in the US.

Signs and Symptoms Most oral cancers arise on the lips, tongue or the floor of the mouth. They also may occur inside your cheeks, on your gums or on the roof of your mouth. Oropharyngeal cancers related to HPV are often found in the tonsil or base of tongue. Other head and neck cancers arise from the voice box or throat, or from salivary (spit) glands or the thyroid gland.

Some early signs and symptoms include:
• A red or white spot in your mouth that doesn't heal or that increases in size
• Sore throat or swollen tonsil
• Changes in your voice
• A lump in your neck
• Earache
• Difficulty swallowing

Risk Factors Tobacco (including smokeless tobacco) and alcohol use are very important risk factors for oral, head and neck cancers, particularly those of the tongue, mouth, throat and voice box. People who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk for developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone. (Source: National Cancer Institute).

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) has recently emerged as a leading cause of oropharyngeal (tonsil and base of tongue) cancer, particularly in non-smokers and younger age groups. It is thought that these cancers are related to oral sex. While the majority of all head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco and alcohol use, over half of tonsil and base of tongue cancers are linked to HPV.

While anyone can develop thyroid cancers, a family history or exposure to radiation is considered a factor that may increase the risk. Most salivary gland cancers do not seem to be associated with any particular cause.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Throat Cancer Researchers have attributed the increase of head and neck cancer incidence in young adults, a group traditionally at low risk, to the human-papillomavirus (HPV), a cancer-causing virus that can be transmitted through oral sex. Many studies support that oropharyngeal cancers -- those affecting the tonsils, back of the mouth (throat) and base of the tongue -- have been on the rise since the mid-1980s, and currently 50-70 percent of these cases are caused by HPV infection. Many studies show that patients with HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers are more responsive to treatment and have better survival rates than HPV-negative patients.

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