Skip to content
left end
left end
right end

24 September 2013

Raising Awareness of Head and Neck Cancer

Experts at Bristol Dental Hospital will be holding an early diagnosis clinic, between 9am and 1pm on Wednesday 25 September, for people to discuss any concerns or symptoms they may have about head and neck cancer. 

The one day clinic will be held at Bristol Dental Hospital as part of the European Head and Neck Society's (EHNS) initiative called the Make Sense campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the cancer across the UK and Europe. 

More than 130,000 new cases of head and neck cancer are estimated each year across Europe, with around 63,000 deaths. 

Specialists from across the continent are coming together for a European-wide awareness week, commencing on Monday 23 September with UK Awareness Day. 

Mr Ceri Hughes, lead clinician for head and neck cancer at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, says:  "Head and neck cancer can present with something as simple as a mouth ulcer, a lump in the neck or development of hoarseness. 

"If symptoms such as these don't resolve within three weeks, patients should see either their GP or dentist. It is important to seek help early as we know that cancers picked up at an early stage are much easier to treat and have a better chance of cure. 

"The Head and Neck Team at University Hospitals Bristol is supporting the European Head and Neck Cancer Awareness week in its Make Sense campaign and would encourage anyone with symptoms they are concerned about to speak to their GP or dentist."

Head and neck cancer accounts for five per cent of all cancers globally, with more than 600,000 new cases worldwide in 2008, leading to more than 350,000 attributable deaths.

The aim of the Make Sense campaign is to raise awareness of head and neck cancer symptoms by emphasising the key message that Earlier presentation, diagnosis and referral could improve patients' chances of survival. 

Head and neck cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage as patients and primary care providers do not always recognise the symptoms. A European-wide survey even found that three-quarters of respondents said they were not familiar with the term. 

Head and neck cancer is now the sixth most common cancer worldwide following a significant increase in the global incidence of cases in the last decade, particularly among women.

Although men are 2-3 times more likely to develop head and neck cancer, the incidence is increasing in women. And, while it is most common in people over the age of 40, there has been a recent increase in younger people developing the disease.

The risks are greater for people who smoke and drink, while the incidence of throat cancer is rising due to certain sub-types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. More than 30 to 40 types of HPV are typically transmitted through sexual contact. HPV infection is also a cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer.

To help identify possible symptoms of the disease, leading head and neck cancer experts have devised the 'One for Three' definition for patients and healthcare practitioners to be on the lookout for.

It recommends seeking medical advice for anyone who has one of the following symptoms for three weeks:

  1. Sore tongue, non-healing mouth ulcers and/or red or white patches in the mouth / Painful and/or difficulty swallowing
  2. Pain in the throat / Lump in the neck
  3. Persistent hoarseness / Blocked nose on one side and/or bloody discharge from the nose-

For more information about the campaign, visit: