Head and neck cancers or tumors will begin as squamous cells in the moist surfaces of the neck. The symptoms are not always distinguishable from a common cold, but persistent symptoms should be explored for a potentially more dangerous condition. Here are seven early signals of head or neck tumors.
1. Lump in the Head or Neck
Although lumps develop at a later stage of cancer, feeling a lump in the head or neck is a clear sign that you may have a head or neck tumor. You should visit a physician to get a biopsy to determine if the lump is malignant or benign. If it’s malignant, it should be removed through surgery or other medical treatment.
2. Persistent Sore Throat
Persistent sore throat is another indicator of cancer in the head or neck. If your sore throat is persistent or recurring, seek medical treatment. It could be more than a common cold, and actually a first sign of the development of a head or neck tumor.
3. Difficulty Swallowing
If you have difficulty swallowing, it could mean that the head or neck tumor is restricting your passageways. This means you should be tested for head or neck cancer. Don’t just mask the problem with throat lozenges, Get Treated!
4. Change in Voice or Hoarseness or Frequent Coughing
If you have a change in your voice or you experience frequent coughing or hoarseness, you should refrain from masking it with cough syrup. Get checked by a physician. Certain antihistamines may cause cancer to spread and may be detrimental to your recovery. Don’t play with your health, Get Checked!
5. Unexplained Weight Loss
If you suddenly lose weight, and you’re consuming the same types and amounts of food, you may have cancer. Cancer can also cause weight loss because of a lack of appetite. Check with your physician if this happens to you.
6. Ear Pain or Hearing Loss
Ear pain or hearing loss may be a sign that the tumor is pressing on a nerve that affects the patient’s ability to hear. If you suddenly have a reduction in hearing loss, it may be due to a head or neck tumor.
Headaches can occur if a head or neck tumor becomes so large that it presses against a nerve. Persistent headaches or migraines would warrant a trip to the doctor to be checked for head or neck tumors.
If you have any of these early signs, ask yourself: Have I been exposed to cigarette smoke or tobacco of any kind? Am I drinking alcohol excessively? Have I been exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV)? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” the likelihood that you have a head or neck cancer is greatly increased.
Nearly 75 percent of head and neck cancers are alcohol and tobacco related. People who abuse both vices are at greater risk than someone who doesn’t engage at all. Salivary gland cancers are usually not directly caused by tobacco and alcohol however. HPV, usually, only cause cancers of the tongue and tonsils, which are known as oropharyngeal cancers. There are certain foods that may cause cancers, but this is rare. If you’re at risk and have any of the early warning signs, be sure to get checked for head and throat cancer.