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Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that more than 100 different types of cancers exist? Knowing which cancers are which, what causes them, and what symptoms to look for can be overwhelming. At Harbin Clinic, our goal is to share accurate and clear information that guides our patients and provides important resources to help detect and prevent cancer. As April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to shed some light on what this cancer is, who is at risk, and how we can help.

What is it?

Head and neck cancers are types of cancers found most commonly in the mouth, nose, throat, and sometimes the salivary glands. Head and neck cancers make up 4% of all cancers in the United States according to the National Cancer Institute. These cancers are seen more commonly in men than women, though both are at risk based on factors that differ from person to person.

Head and neck cancers begin in what are known as the squamous cells that line mucosal surfaces inside the mouth, throat, and voice box. These cancers are known as squamous cell carcinomas and can become large and spread to other parts of the body (metastasize) if gone untreated. Harbin Clinic Ear Nose and Throat physicians are highly equipped and experienced to diagnose and treat a variety of head and neck cancers. Depending on the type, location, and progression of cancer, treatment can include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

What are the risks?

There are several factors that can put you at higher risk for developing cancer in the head or neck region. Heavy tobacco and alcohol use are the most common risk factors, others include:

– Poor oral hygiene and missing teeth

– Radiation exposure

– Exposure to wood dust, asbestos, and synthetic fibers

– Previous infection with HPV virus

“Regular visits to an ENT are crucial in managing the risk factors associated with head and neck cancer,” explains Dr. Robert King, an otolaryngologist with Harbin Clinic Ear Nose and Throat. “By being proactive and addressing any potential issues, we can take the necessary steps to protect our health.”

If I need care, what should I do? 

Precancerous head and neck tumors can become serious if proper steps are not taken to eliminate any tissue that could become cancerous. Though it may be difficult to tell if you should seek professional treatment for health concerns in the head or neck region, the following are some signs and symptoms that you should discuss with your doctor:

– Swelling or a sore that does not heal

– Lump, bump, or mass in the head or neck area

– Persistent sore throat

– Hoarseness or change in voice

– Foul mouth odor not explained by hygiene

Don’t hesitate when it comes to your health. Harbin Clinic ENT is prepared to educate, diagnose, and treat an array of head and neck cancers, and stand with you on your path to recovery. Harbin Clinic Ear, Nose and Throat practices are located in Rome, Cartersville, and Calhoun for your convenience. If you have concerns about any of the above symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, visit

Published April 7, 2023

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