Experts from the University of Derby, University Hospitals of Derby and Burton (UHDB) and University Hospitals Leicester have joined forces to raise awareness of head and neck cancer. The teams, which included clinicians, nurses and scientists, as well as representatives from two national charities – The Swallows and the Oracle Cancer Trust – are on a mission to highlight the rise in these cancers. As part of their campaign, they offered advice and information and free head and neck screening at a recent event in the Derbion Centre in Derby.
The aim was to help people spot the symptoms of these cancers, which are seeing a sharp rise.
Dr Elizabeth Marsh, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Derby:
“A lot of these cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which also causes cervical cancer. It’s good to see the prevalence of cervical cancer falling as a result of successful screening and vaccination programmes, and we need to ensure that there’s the same level of awareness for its ability to cause head and neck cancers.
“Treatment for head and neck cancer, if not caught early, can affect an individual’s ability to eat, breathe, smile and speak, so it’s really important that we make people aware of what to look for.”
Around 80 people were screened at the session, with around 10% referred for further tests.
Mr Bindy Sahota, Consultant Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) and Head and Neck Surgeon at UHDB:
“We believe there is a general lack of understanding and knowledge in the wider public when it comes to oropharyngeal cancers, but they are rising sharply and are now one of the most common forms of head and neck cancer, especially in men.
“The numbers of people smoking are decreasing and there is an increase in awareness of alcohol-related issues, but we are still seeing a large growth in the numbers of cases, driven by HPV.”
Dr Marsh and her team used the day to gauge awareness levels of head and neck cancers. The information gathered will help evidence the need for head and neck screening in the fight against this cancer, which they plan to raise this with health ministers.
Common signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer can include new and fast-growing lumps, persistent issues with your voice, pain when eating, ulcers that don’t heal, and lumps that bleed, but symptoms can vary.
If you are concerned about head and neck cancer symptoms, please speak to your GP as soon as possible.