As of yet, there is no head and neck cancer screening method that has been shown to improve patient outcomes. However, in many cases, this type of cancer can be detected early and treated successfully. In addition to general patient education and awareness, the physicians at Moffitt Cancer Center recommend performing an examination of a patient’s head, neck, and throat as part of an annual physical examination, as well as an examination of a patient’s mouth during a semiannual dental evaluation.
In the absence of a reliable screening technique for head and neck cancer, Moffitt also recommends certain lifestyle changes, which can go a long way toward reducing the risk of developing many forms of head and neck cancer. For instance, we advise patients to:
- Quit smoking and avoid all tobacco use
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages
- Wear a protective face mask whenever there is a possibility of exposure to harmful fumes, wood dust or other cancer-causing agents
- Practice good oral hygiene and see a dentist regularly
- Adhere to a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables and limits salty and preserved foods
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing to prevent excessive exposure to UV rays
- Consult with a physician promptly if any questionable symptoms develop, such as a lump or swelling in the neck, a persistent sore throat, a mouth sore that does not heal or frequent nosebleeds
Individuals who have questions or concerns about head and neck cancer symptoms can consult with the multispecialty team of experts at Moffitt, and no referrals are needed. Our specialists include surgeons, radiation oncologists and medical oncologists, and each is focused specifically on the diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancers. This unique "specialist within the specialty" approach allows us to provide comprehensive and highly individualized patient care.