Head-neck cancers are the cancers which occur in the most remarkable part of the human body. Even though they are not as frequent as a lung or breast cancer, the distress caused by them in terms of patient and society shows the significance of these cancers. The distress mainly results from the fact that the head and neck area is the most uncontainable part of the human body. For example, it is not likely when in community (e.g, when in the subway, on the bus, street or in the movie etc) to notice that a woman who has lost a breast due to breast cancer or a person who has to live with colostomy (defecation through the opening which is formed by drawing the healthy end of large intestine through an incision in the anterior abdominal wall and suturing it into place) have lost their organs due to cancer. Even though the patient is diseased, they can move on a normal person in community. However, a patient who has lost entire of his throat due to a cancer occurred in head-neck area (e.g., an advanced throat cancer) might have to live with a permanent hole (tracheostomy) in the lower part of his/her neck or problems like inability to speak or make himself/herself understood in the rest of his/her life. The sputum spilling out of the lungs whenever the patient coughs and inability to speak may cause the patient to excluded or detach himself/herself from the society and thus sink into a great depression.
Throat cancer is not the only condition occurring in head-neck area and resulting such a distress in the patient and community. In addition to throat cancer, a patient who had to lose almost all of his/her jaw due to intraoral cancer developed in the jawbone (mandibula), a patient who had to lose his/her nose or half of his/her face due to paranasal sinus cancer, or a patient who had to lose his/her entire tongue and thus is unable to speak and swallow due to tongue cancer may become alone with problems and difficulties difficult to overcome both in community and his/her inner world. Examples can be reproduced. A patient who is unable to swallow and speak and has to live with feeding tube due to pharyngeal cancer, and a patient who is unable to speak and has food reflux into nose upon swallowing due to soft palatal cancer are other examples.
The major reason for people to fear of head-neck cancers and abstain from referring to a physician upon noticing that they have head/neck cancer is this deep organic and mental distress in the patient and community, which is likely to be caused by head-neck cancers due to possible loss of organ. However, this is totally a groundless fear. The Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery and Radiation Oncology Disciplines, which have been developped in parallel to today's technological advances make it possible to cure head-neck cancer through a rational treatment without making the patient distressed. For example, 83 percent of the throat cancer patients has the chance to get rid of the disease with no permanent hole (tracheostomy) opened in their neck no matter what phase the disease is. Likewise, the advances in the otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery discipline make it possible to make a new jawbone for a patient who has lost almost all of his/her lower jaw for intramouth cancer by transplanting bone from leg or to make a new tongue for a patient who has lost almost all of his/her tongue for tongue cancer by using forearm skin. Therefore, it is a groundless fear that people having head/neck cancer delay their treatment because of such kind of concerns.Back