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Against head and neck tumors: secondary prevention

We have all heard it many times. “Fortunately, we caught the tumor in time”. This phrase summarizes in a very simple and graphic way the fundamental key in the prognosis of the vast majority of tumors in the head and neck area, which are those tumors that appear in the larynx, pharynx, oral cavity, salivary glands, thyroid and paranasal sinuses and fossae. Tumors that are diagnosed and treated by the otolaryngologist, among other medical specialists. And the fact is that head and neck tumors (and this could be extended to many other anatomical areas) have a very favorable prognosis if diagnosed at an early stage, when they are localized and restricted to the organ that contains them and have not spread further. The great majority of these cases can be approached with a high probability of success through surgery or radiotherapy treatments, achieving really high survival figures at 5 years, and cure in a high percentage of cases.

And in order to “catch the tumor in time”, that is to say, to make an early diagnosis, the most important thing is to go to a specialist doctor when the first symptoms appear; these symptoms are sometimes subtle and depend on which organ is affected. In the case of larynx tumors, progressive changes in the voice usually appear, which do not disappear and which tend to evolve becoming more and more important. In the case of pharyngeal tumors, the most common is the appearance of pain or discomfort when swallowing, which also tends to become progressively more intense. In the case of oral cavity tumors, whitish lesions usually appear on the tongue or on the mucosa of the oral cavity, or sometimes ulcers, which sometimes may not be painful but do not heal and with the passage of time increase in size. On other occasions what we observe is the appearance of a lump or increase in volume in the neck. In these cases it is necessary to perform a thorough examination, since certain tumors, such as thyroid and salivary gland tumors, usually present with this symptomatology. Sometimes these lumps in the neck correspond to cervical nodes that may also be affected by head and neck tumors since they are the first place to which all these tumors spread when they are already in a more advanced stage. All these signs and symptoms, especially in individuals from the fourth decade of life and particularly in patients with unhealthy habits such as regular consumption of tobacco and alcohol should make us go in first person (or recommend to go in case of observing them in a third party), to a specialized otolaryngology consultation.

At the Centro Integral de Otorrinolaringología (CIO) we have extensive experience in the management of oncological pathology in the Head and Neck area and we have a multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive care to the patient suffering from this important health problem. If these warning signs appear, do not hesitate to come to us.