About a thousand people get cancer every year in the oral cavity, throat or throat. Most people who get the disease are over 65 years of age.
There are many difficult to access and sensitive places in the mouth, throat and throat area and this can sometimes make treatment difficult, but most usually get healthy. Some treatments may require a longer period of rehabilitation, for example, if the speech is affected.
Symptoms of head and neck cancer
A sign can be prolonged hoarseness without having any infection or seeing any other clear explanation for the symptom. But hoarseness is a common symptom that often does not mean cancer.
If you discover a lump, a wart or a wound inside the oral cavity or on the lips that do not disappear after a few weeks, you should seek care to have the change examined. You should also seek care if you have difficulty swallowing, eating and chewing or have a feeling of having a lump in your throat that does not go away. You can also get a knot on the neck that does not hurt. It is common to get knots on the neck if you have an infection, but those knots usually tend to tender a little.
An ear-nose-throat doctor should examine you if the doctor you are first seeing suspects you may have cancer or any other illness that requires specialist care. You will then receive a referral to a standardized course of care if the examination reinforces the suspicion of cancer. Standardized care processes are a way of organizing the investigation so that it goes as quickly as possible. Among other things, there are times set for the surveys you may need to do. The doctor who writes the referral tells you why you should be investigated according to a standardized course of care, what it means and when you can be told if you have cancer or not. It is often quick to get calls for examinations in a standardized course of care. It is good if you are clear about how the staff most safely reach you so that you do not miss any time.
In an investigation, you usually get to do various examinations like computed tomography or x-ray. If you have problems in the oral cavity, throat and throat area, you are also examined with a so-called endoscope, which is a narrow and flexible tube that is inserted through the nose and down the throat. With the endoscope, the doctor can see the area better and remove a piece of tissue which is then examined under a microscope to see if it contains cancer cells.
If you have been diagnosed with oral, throat, or throat cancer and are unsure if you are receiving the care and treatment that is best for you, you may receive a new medical assessment. You will then see another doctor, usually at another specialist clinic. Ask your doctor if you want to know more about how to get a new medical assessment.
Treatment for head and neck cancer
The treatment may be an operation or radiotherapy, and sometimes a combination of both methods. Sometimes you may also need to get cytostatics. Much of what is damaged by the surgery can be repaired through plastic surgery. It is common for plastic surgery to be performed at the same time as the surgery when the tumor is removed. Most become healthy after being treated.
In some cases, when the tumor is large or sits in a difficult-to-reach place, permanent problems can occur after treatment. For example, it can be difficult to swallow or to speak. Sometimes you may have to remove the entire larynx and then you can no longer speak as you did before. Instead, a voice valve is operated. You get help from a speech therapist to learn to speak through it. It means a big and difficult change, but after a while, both the self and the environment usually get used to the new speech. If the tumor is on the tongue, sometimes part of the tongue must be removed. It can affect speech, for example, you may find it difficult to pronounce certain words.
When to seek care?
If you have the symptoms described above, you should seek care at a health care center.