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Public lacks awareness of head and neck cancer

Tue, May 14, 2013

Oral Cancer News

Author: Leatitia Michael

A survey reveals that the general public, including those who smoke, do not know very much about oral, head, and neck cancer (OHNC).

There were nearly 40,000 new cases of oral, head and neck cancer diagnosed last year in the USA, of which 85 per cent could be linked to tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption. Yet, according to a survey from the Medical University of South Carolina, the public remains largely unaware of the risks.

In the study, over 1,000 members of the public were telephoned and 62 per cent said they were not knowledgeable about OHNC. Among smokers, the lack of awareness ran at 58 per cent. Under half of non-smokers and smokers knew that smoking was a risk factor. Hoarseness was correctly identified as a symptom by only one per cent of smokers and two per cent overall. But 17 per cent of the sample incorrectly named headache as a symptom.

People can spot the signs and symptoms of OHNC themselves, but 94 per cent had not been told to look for problems like mouth sores that do not heal. And only 26 per cent had been check for this by a doctor. Clearly there is some way to go in raising awareness among the public of OHNC.

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