Head And Neck Cancer Prevention
While there is no proven way to completely prevent head and neck cancer, there are several things one can do to reduce the risk or the chances of developing it. It is best to consult your healthcare provider to know about your personal risk of this cancer.
How to reduce the risk:
- Quit smoking – Avoiding all forms of tobacco is the most important thing one can do to lower the risk.
- Limit alcohol consumption – Frequent drinking and excessive alcohol is a major risk factor. It is best to limit one’s alcohol intake or completely avoid it.
- Practice safe sex – Some head and neck cancers are caused by human papillomavirus or HPV infection. Using barrier methods of contraception and getting vaccines prior to exposure can help lower the risk.
- Maintain good oral hygiene – Ensure to brush and floss your teeth regularly and go for dentist routine check-ups.
- Protect from sun exposure – To lower the risk of lip cancer, use sunscreen regularly and a lip balm with adequate Sun Protection Factor or SPF
- Limit your exposure to occupational hazards – Follow safety guidelines and wear protective gears for minimal exposure to chemicals such as asbestos, nickel, wood dust, and paint fumes.
- Limit your exposure to radiation – High radiation can damage the salivary glands. Limit your exposure to radiation.
- Regular check-ups and screenings – Visit your healthcare provider regularly to help detect any potential health issues early. Screening for head and neck cancer often involves physical examination where the healthcare provider will examine the patient’s nose, mouth, and throat for any abnormalities. The neck area will also be observed to detect any lumps.
Regular dental check-ups are also recommended to screen for head and neck cancer.
Cancers of the head and neck may be cured especially if detected early. Treatments depend on various factors such as the location of the cancer, its stage, possible side effects, as well as the overall health of the patient. It is recommended for a patient to consult a healthcare provider to know the best and suitable treatment.
Some of the treatment options for head and neck cancer are:
- Surgery – It is performed to remove the cancerous tumour. Depending on the location and how far the cancer has spread, different surgical techniques may be used by the surgeon such as invasive surgery, laser surgery, or reconstructive surgery.
- Radiation Therapy – This involves using high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours. It can be used on its own or in combination with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy.
There are advanced techniques of radiation therapy that are used to minimize the damage to surrounding healthy tissues. Two of them are the Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and the Proton Beam Therapy which is now available in Singapore.
- Chemotherapy – It is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, by keeping them from growing. It is often used in combination with radiation therapy.
- Targeted Therapy – This treatment also uses drugs. It specifically targets certain molecules or pathways involved in the growth of cancer.
- Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy drugs help stimulate the immune system to attack the cancer cells.
Where To Get Treatment In Singapore
If you are looking for the best clinics for head and neck cancer treatment in Singapore, here are five cancer centres that you can consider.
- National Cancer Centre Singapore – NCCS is a specialized cancer centre that has a dedicated head and neck cancer team consisting of experienced specialists in surgical oncology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, and other related fields.
- Singapore General Hospital – One of Singapore’s largest and oldest hospitals with a renowned head and neck surgical oncology team.
- Icon Cancer Centre – Icon Cancer Centre is part of the Icon Group, Australia’s largest dedicated provider of cancer care. They have a team of medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists that worked in world-renowned cancer centres. Icon Cancer Centre offers chemotherapy and radiation therapy services alongside partners.
- Mount Elizabeth Hospital – More popularly known as Mount E, Mount Elizabeth Hospital is a private hospital with a comprehensive oncology centre. They are one of the earliest private hospitals to introduce proton beam therapy.
- Parkway Cancer Centre – One of the largest private cancer centres in Singapore. They have medical oncologists with subspecialty expertise in head and neck cancers. They offer outpatient and inpatient chemotherapy and radiation therapy among others.
Further Reading On Head And Neck Cancer
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.