Plea for greater awareness of head and neck cancers

THE New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) called for greater awareness of head and neck cancers on World Head and Neck Cancer Day on Saturday, July 27.

Head and neck cancers are the fifth most common types of cancer worldwide, with more than one million new cases detected annually.

New Zealand has the world’s fourth highest incidence of oral cavity cancer, with about 500 new cases each year.

“Dentists have the training and the proximity to help in the detection of some head and neck cancers, particularly oral cancers, which is yet another benefit of regular dental and oral examinations,” said NZDA spokesperson Dr Ajith Polonowita, an oral medicine and oral pathology specialist.

The risk factors for these cancers can be reduced.

If diagnosed early, they can be curable or the prognosis can be improved.

Many cancers of the mouth or tongue can cause a sore or swelling that doesn’t go away.

Smoking and alcohol consumption are risk factors that can increase the chance of oral cancer in some people.

“We want people to never leave mouth ulcers, white or red patches, and discolourations untreated, particularly those that do not heal quickly or are located on the side of the tongue or under the tongue, or sometimes under dentures as well as the lower lip,” Dr Polonowita said. “Many cancers of the mouth or tongue may be painless. However, they may bleed, and they may become infected.

“They need to be checked without undue delay.”

If you are at all worried, see your dentist or doctor in the first instance.

World Head and Neck Cancer Day is acknowledged by the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncology Societies, along with more than 50 head and neck societies and more than 50 countries.

THE New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) called for greater awareness of head and neck cancers on World Head and Neck Cancer Day on Saturday, July 27.

Head and neck cancers are the fifth most common types of cancer worldwide, with more than one million new cases detected annually.

New Zealand has the world’s fourth highest incidence of oral cavity cancer, with about 500 new cases each year.

“Dentists have the training and the proximity to help in the detection of some head and neck cancers, particularly oral cancers, which is yet another benefit of regular dental and oral examinations,” said NZDA spokesperson Dr Ajith Polonowita, an oral medicine and oral pathology specialist.

The risk factors for these cancers can be reduced.

If diagnosed early, they can be curable or the prognosis can be improved.

Many cancers of the mouth or tongue can cause a sore or swelling that doesn’t go away.

Smoking and alcohol consumption are risk factors that can increase the chance of oral cancer in some people.

“We want people to never leave mouth ulcers, white or red patches, and discolourations untreated, particularly those that do not heal quickly or are located on the side of the tongue or under the tongue, or sometimes under dentures as well as the lower lip,” Dr Polonowita said. “Many cancers of the mouth or tongue may be painless. However, they may bleed, and they may become infected.

“They need to be checked without undue delay.”

If you are at all worried, see your dentist or doctor in the first instance.

World Head and Neck Cancer Day is acknowledged by the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncology Societies, along with more than 50 head and neck societies and more than 50 countries.

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