Tobacco and alcohol leading cause of head and neck cancer

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE leading causes of head and neck cancer are tobacco and alcohol use, the Department Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD)-6 warned.

According to John Richard Lapascua, senior health officer of DOH-6, smokers, drinkers, including those who are exposed to tobacco smoke, are at risk of head and neck cancer.

“Based on studies, nagapanguna nga cause sang head and neck cancer is tobacco use. The mere fact that particles itself is carcinogenic but ang constant exposure sa tobacco smoke naga-irritate sa membrane sang nose until makalab-ot sa lungs. Ang alcohol also indi lang makatuga liver cancer but can also cause head and neck cancer because of its acidic nature,” he said. 

Lapascua said other causes of head and neck cancer include Human Papilloma Virus or warts and low immune system resistance, chewed tobacco products, preserved or salted food, poor oral health, occupational exposure and radiation exposure.

In 2017, malignant neoplasm or cancer ranked third among the leading causes of mortality in Western Visayas, killing about 4, 140 individuals based on a report by DOH-6.

As part of their Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, this April 7-14, 2019, the health department urged the public to consult the doctor whenever they feel a lump in their neck.

Kung feel naton may naghabok. I-check sa mirror, and kun may makita na lump, better consult sa doctor and indi lang magdepende sa web or internet,” Lapascua said.

Head and neck cancer, according to DOH-6 are cancers that collectively affects in squamous cells or mucosal surfaces in the head and neck (inside the mouth, nose, and throat). These include cancers occurring in oral cavity, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), and nasal cavity.

The signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer include a lump in the neck, change in the voice, a growth in the mouth, coughing of blood, swallowing problems, changes in membranes or skin, and persistent earache.

As a preventive measure, Lapascua encouraged the public to maintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, and regulate or stop their tobacco and alcohol use.

“Over and over again they should practice healthy lifestyle, stop smoking and magpaconsulta gid kung may nabatyag nga malain. Exercise and eat balanced diet,” he noted. 

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