Facts about Head and Neck Cancer


It accounts for nearly four percent of malignancies in the United States. Doctors say head and neck cancer is the seventh most common cancer worldwide. “Head and neck cancer is typically diagnosed twice as often in men as it is in women. Then you also see that it’s much more commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 50 than younger than that,” explained Dr. Scott Larson, a head and neck cancer surgeon on the medical staff of Lee Health.

Traditionally, the most common risk factors for head and neck cancer are tobacco and alcohol–But head and neck surgeon Dr. Scott Larson says, the HPV virus is also putting younger patients at risk for the disease. “We are seeing an increase in the number of head and neck cancers in younger people due to a new risk factor which is the human papillomavirus. We see more young people with throat cancers in the tonsil and base of the tongue and that does tend to occur in younger people,” he said.

If patients have trouble swallowing, voice changes, a sore throat, a lump in the neck, or a sore in the mouth that’s not healing, it’s important to see your doctor. “It is definitely treatable. It’s definitely curable. CUT unfortunately when they’re more advanced the survival is around 50 percent but in the earlier stages, your survival is more about 90 percent,” said Dr. Larson.

Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. “When we pick a treatment option for somebody, we try to think which of these treatment options is going to preserve function the most and allow somebody a quality of life after treatment,” he said.

Giving patients options and quality care for head and neck cancer.

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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health – Caring People. Inspiring Care.

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