Laryngectomees & Suicides

Laryngectomees & Suicides

This may not be the best subject for many to read about but it remains a sad fact that suicide rates amongst laryngectomees are 3x higher than any ‘normal’ suicide rates!

Patients with head and neck cancer have more than 3 times the incidence of suicide compared with the general population, with rates highest among patients with cancers of the larynx and hypopharynx, according to a study published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Dr Itzhak Brook has written the following and his words should be heeded!

High Suicide Rate for Patients with Head and Neck Cancer

Patients with head and neck cancer have more than 3 times the incidence of suicide compared with the general population, with rates highest among patients with cancers of the larynx and hypopharynx, according to a study published by JAMAOtolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Dr. Chan Woo Park R, M.D., of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, and colleagues examined the incidence rate, trends, and risk factors of suicide in patients with cancer of the head and neck between 1973 and 2011. Compared with the suicide rate of the general population, the researchers found that patients with head and neck cancer have more than 3 times the incidence of suicide. Suicide rates were higher in those treated with radiation alone compared with those treated with surgery alone.

There was a nearly 12-fold higher incidence of suicide in patients with hypopharyngeal cancer and a 5-fold higher incidence in those with laryngeal cancer. The authors suggested that this may be linked to these anatomic sites’ intimate relationship with the ability to speak and/or swallow and that loss of these functions can dramatically lower patients’ quality of life. It is possible that the increased rates of tracheostomy dependence and dysphagia [difficulty swallowing] and/or gastrostomy tube dependence in these patients are exacerbating factors in the increased rate of suicide observed.

The authors recommended that additional research and effort should also be devoted to the psychological toll that cancer, treatments, and resulting morbidity have on patients.

Head & Neck Cancers

Head & Neck Cancers

Have you ever contemplated life without words? Try being ‘speechless’ for five minutes or just an hour! Jot down all the things you would have said in those 60 minutes you’ll be amazed at the copious amounts of writing! You will also be amazed at how many people are unable to decipher your ‘mouthing’ of simple words-ask for a cup of tea as you normally word have but without sound, try telling someone you are in pain, discuss what you want for dinner, try calling for help! I think you get the point by now folks! It will shock you!

Now imagine going into hospital for a 10-minute investigative ‘mini-op’ to check something inside your throat, but waking up 2 1/2 hours later with ‘scaffolding’ sticking out of the front of your neck. Imagine the horror of realizing that suddenly, all of that which you took for granted has gone and has been replaced by a piece of plastic pipe, and worse still, you now rely on this piece of pipe for your breathing! It’s a good job that you are laying down for the shock would ‘flat-pack’ you as the ‘full horror of the thing’ sinks in.

You’ve actually undergone a tracheotomy (and/with the possibility of a full 9-10.5hr laryngectomy to come) because when the surgeons opened up your neck they found your windpipe & food pipe pushed 2 inches back into your neck, thanks to a virulent tumor (quite possibly a rather gruesomely named ‘squamous cell carcinoma’), so they had no option, otherwise, you would have died.

That which had caused you discomfort, pain, aggravation, restricted your eating, made even swallowing liquids a chore, cut your breath whilst sleeping, caused much shortness of breath doing even the simplest of tasks was a massive tumor in your throat (imagine forcing a golf ball in there!). It had almost annihilated your larynx and was rapidly setting about annihilating YOU via strangulation – who needs the hang man’s noose! The first operation kept you alive but the second (full laryngectomy) was to kill the tumor-‘lock, stock, and two smokin’ lymph nodes!

Welcome to the world of the laryngectomee!

After 12 ½ hours of life-saving major surgery, being voiceless doesn’t seem quite so bad after all! You still have your life and if you are lucky enough to have the love of a good woman as well, then the upward learning curve begins immediately!

Many will immediately think, “ oh well, if you smoke, what do you expect!” but, would they be right in that assumption?

***All we need are 50,000 x £1 coins!***

A virus spread during oral sex is now the main cause of throat cancer in people under 50, scientists have warned. Cancers of the mouth and oropharynx – the top of the throat – used to be mainly diagnosed in older men who drink or smoke. But increasingly, it is being seen in younger men.

Prof Maura Gillison of Ohio State University in Columbus said that sexually transmitted HPV was a bigger cause of some oral cancers than tobacco. )

To Diagnose

Your doctor will refer you to your local hospital, the ENT department where they have all the equipment to investigate your troublesome neck & throat. This involves a bit of gentle prodding and poking around but if your ENT specialist can’t ascertain the reason for your referral he/she may well employ a very long, thin camera (nasendoscopy) that is inserted into your nostril and gently positioned in your throat so that a clearer picture can be acquired. This may result in your needing biopsies being taken, which involves a quick theatre ‘knock out’ and small sections of the affected area being taken for analysis.

***All we need are 25,000 x £2 coins!***

Though a marvelous invention the nasoendoscope does not give a very good picture, which of course makes the decision of the cancer specialist a damn sight more difficult when in actual fact ‘all-speed’ is necessary

However, technology advances at a tremendous rate and “Olympus” have designed a fantastic new camera known as the “Rhino-Laryngol Videoscope”, which works on the same principle as the abovementioned but with a massive difference.

Micro technology has seen a special chip inserted into the tiny camera which then transports a brilliantly clear, color picture onto as big as a 30” TV screen. Previous images were 1/10th of the size so you can imagine just how quickly and how much simpler a diagnosis could now be. Imagine a tea candle on soup plate!

*** All we need are 100,000 50p pieces! ***

To the patient it means that after chemo/radiotherapy has finished and the throat has healed somewhat, instead of going ‘through the tunnel’ (in which it is impossible to remain absolutely motionless), your consultant can look for himself with the new “Rhino-Laryngol Videoscope” and see immediately if the area is now tumor free; ie no cancer!

This has massive benefits to not only the patient but to the hospital as well. The patient gets to know the outcome of the chemo/radiotherapy a lot quicker for although the ‘scanner’ can say there are no tumors/growths left it is not a sure-fire solution-especially if the tumor is lurking in the trachea or larynx. Decisions for Head & Neck cancer patients are difficult enough at the best of times, so any time delays exacerbate the stress of those decisions.

It is always better to know than to be left guessing! It means that patients can move on a surgical procedure much quicker which not only relieves the stress factor but curtails the growth of the offending tumor. I would surmise that it will also tell the Head & Neck cancer experts whether bothering with radio/chemotherapy is actually worthwhile, therefore giving an option of going straight to surgery.

Secondly, it can save the valuable time of your consultant and the cancer specialists, for faster diagnosis means less time spent per patient thus more economical for the hospital concerned. This is not to say that your consultant, or any of the team, will deprive you of necessary time concerning any part of your treatment, merely a fact of life that even though smoking has been on a reductive trend since the 1960’s cancer prevalence has steadily increased in the same period: more patients need to be seen in the same amount of time! For instance, the smoking ban was introduced on July 1st, 2007 yet in that year alone we saw a 4% increase in cancer cases (M) & 3.75% (F) (Office of National Statistics). Therefore it is imperative that specialists are able to diagnose correctly and speedily for all concerned.

***All we need are 250,000 x 20p pieces!***

This new technological breakthrough comes at a price, however, but there is never gain without pain! At £50,000 a time the “Rhino-Laryngol Videoscope” is not a cheap investment but it IS the epitome of ‘on spot diagnosis. The mere fact that a patient’s larynx etc can be seen so clearly on such a large screen can only be a bonus as any ‘untoward cells’ will be easily spotted by the experts-thus treatments will be quicker. Imagine looking at a picture on a tea candle and then on a soup plate-that is the difference this superb piece of kit makes.

It is obvious that with us being in the grip of ‘government austerity’, expensive items like this are not exactly on the ‘urgently required’ spending list, but they should be for they can go where only investigative surgery went before. Investigative surgery is expensive, time-consuming, and can be extremely distressing for the patient (and also includes post-operative care), this wonderful innovation can save all of that.

*** All we need are 10,000 x £5 notes! ***

It is not only the ‘spotting’ of cancerous tissue that this machine will perform as skilled speech therapists  will be able to assess throat muscles in dysphagic clients (clients with swallowing problems to me & you!) It provides the clinician with accurate information and the client with an informed choice-mega important, as I have found out since November 2010!

Voice therapy can also be trialed, ie, exercises to improve laryngeal movement and therefore improve voice quality.  This therapy will also have an impact on improving speech quality if it has been affected.

This assessment is particularly useful to perform with clients who have had head and neck cancer, ie, those that have undergone oral and/or oral pharyngeal surgery as they have reduced sensation and can tolerate the assessment better than those that haven’t had surgery. This advancement in technology is incredible as it opens up a completely new visual world concerning Head & Neck cancers.

It is a ‘must-have’, simple as that.

Do you know how I know all this, not being of the medical
profession? Because had this technological advance been in use in April 2010, I would not have suffered as I did (no fault of the specialist team I hasten to add) until November of that year when firstly I underwent a life-saving tracheotomy and then, two weeks later, a full scale 10 1/2 hr laryngectomy!
This piece of equipment would have shown any consultant that the chemo/radiotherapy had not killed off the tumor which was slowly strangling me. It was almost 7 months before my consultant opened me up to find that said tumor had forced my windpipe & food pipe 2” (two inches) into the back of my neck!
No wonder I was struggling to eat, breathe and even sleep!

No wonder driving the car was becoming a ‘no-no’ as it made me
doze off!

No wonder a brisk walk to the post box seemed like a marathon all of a sudden!

*** All we need are 5,000 x £10 notes! ***

This new “Rhino-Laryngol Videoscope” would not only have picked up any abnormalities in my laryngeal area, but it would also have magnified them onto a 30” screen for all to see. I sometimes wonder how much all those hospital visits and check-ups actually cost the NHS during those horrendous 7 months.

   *** All we need is your help! ***

Technology means that the sooner this piece of equipment can be paid for the sooner patients can receive the best treatment possible from their dedicated Head & Neck cancer specialists.

The Leicester Royal Infirmary (Kinmonth Ward) leads the way in plastic reconstructions for cancer patients and for all head, neck & throat cancers therefore patients from all surrounding counties will benefit from the speed & advanced definition of this new “Rhino-Laryngol Videoscope” will bring to sufferers of this terrible disease.

Now you have read all the above, please take a moment to watch this marvelous video clip of Jeremy Vine’s throat & voicebox! This is what a laryngoscope can show you!

Please donate whatever you can to this worthy cause for the sooner this piece of equipment is in situ, the sooner ENT patients will get a quicker & clearer diagnosis which will save them much worry and the overstretched hospital staff valuable time, not to mention the NHS considerable expenditure-

it’s a WIN/WIN situation all ways round!


The Operation & Post Op

This next part is not for the faint-hearted, but as with all illnesses, there are gorey parts. We have included this video to show you exactly what cancer does to a larynx and when you see it after it has been removed you will see how vital it is that we strive to buy this essential RhinoLaryngoscope for future head & neck cancer sufferers.

Scottsdale, Ariz., February 20, 2014—A retrospective analysis of oropharyngeal patients with recurrence of disease after primary therapy in the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) studies 0129 or 0522 found that HPV-positive patients had a higher overall survival (OS) rate than HPV-negative patients (at two years post-treatment, 54.6 percent vs. 27.6 percent, respectively), according to research presented today at the 2014 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium.

The analysis included 181 patients with stage III-IV oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) with known HPV status (HPV-positive = 105; HPV-negative = 76), and cancer progression that was local, regional, and/or distant after completion of primary cisplatin-based chemotherapy and radiation therapy (standard vs. accelerated fractionation (AFX)) in RTOG 0129 or cisplatin-AFX with or without cetuximab in RTOG 0522. Tumor status was determined by a surrogate, p16 immunohistochemistry.

The median time to progression was virtually the same for HPV-positive and HPV-negative patients (8.2 months vs. 7.3 months, respectively). Increased risk of death in univariate analysis was associated with high tumor stage at diagnosis (T4 vs. T2-T3), fewer on-protocol cisplatin cycles (≤1 vs. 2-3), and distant vs. local/regional recurrent (for all, hazard ratios (HRs) >2.0 and p<0.05). The risk of death after disease progression increased by 1 percent per cigarette pack-year at diagnosis. Rates were estimated by Kaplan-Meier method and compared by log-rank. HRs were estimated by Cox proportional hazards models and stratified by treatment protocol.

In addition, HPV-positive and HPV-negative patients who underwent surgery after cancer recurrence also experienced improved OS compared to those who did not undergo surgery. (The effect may have been more pronounced among HPV-positive than HPV-negative patients.) Recurrence is most common in the lungs for both groups of patients.

“Our findings demonstrate that HPV-positive OPSCC patients have significantly improved survival after progression of disease when compared with HPV-negative patients. Median survival after disease progression was strikingly longer for HPV-positive than HPV-negative patients,” said lead author Carole Fakhry, MD, MPH, assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “These findings provide us with valuable knowledge to better counsel and treat patients.”

Neck Radiotherapy

Neck Radiotherapy

I’m talking about having 33 days of radiotherapy aimed straight at you. This is usually the last ditch attempt to eradicate the tumour that is causing you pain, stress & discomfort. They say that this mask and all the other millions that are moulded around an individual’s head, face & neck is the very symbol of their torture-they are not far wrong there!

This hand-moulded ‘thing’ is a novelty when they talk to you gently & caringly whilst moulding it delicately to your features, but this is the “Iron Maiden” of radiotherapy. You leave the table thinking “oh dear me, don’t fancy too much of this” but the moulding is nothing considering what is to come!

No, I am not trying to frighten you all to death, I am merely making you aware that some parts of our treatment are considerably worse than others. For me, this is the pinnacle of unhappiness for once this moulded plastic atrocity is screwed down to the table it really does take nerves of steel to simply lay there and not let the proceedings get to you.

I have had occasions where I‘ve simply counted the seconds between the different noises as the radio-active beams change direction/location, and there has been no problem. I’ve had occasions where I have sweat like the proverbial pig, feet and arms flailing for release from this unimaginable prison and I’ve had the odd occasion where nerves simply got the better of me and I simply could not entertain the mask. Funnily enough, on such occasions, the middle-aged lab technician used to simply talk to me quietly whilst gently running the back of her hand up and down my forearm until I was totally relaxed. Amazing how such a simple action can overcome the claustrophobic horrors of ‘the mask’.

Of course, all of this is not pain-free and you’ll find that the 33-day regime takes its toll on you. Apart from the fact that you will feel totally washed out on a daily basis, and certainly NOT circuit, there is a new danger to contend with. Burning!

The longer the radiotherapy continues the more affected your skin becomes. The last week (for me) was simply horrendous as my neck was smothered in super cool Aqueous cream and then smothered in thick, super soft gauze as I couldn’t even stand cool air blowing on it. Conversely, some people seem to breeze through the last bit without so much as a ‘by-your-leave’! I suppose your body just does what it wants to do all you need to do is to stay positive and count down the days until the “Radiohead” has blasted the tumour into a thousand molecules, all of whom will be ejected by the body!

However, although I sound all doom & gloom on this particular subject, it is not all doom & gloom as once that nasty cancer has been obliterated you have the rest of your cancer-free life to look forward to – and you would be amazed at just how quickly your body recovers from this highly traumatic experience.

Remember the simple rule good people: One day at a time, one step at a time!

Pre-op Information

Pre-op Information

Now any pre-op patient with half a brain would want to know what is on the other side; ie, what the situation is for themselves AFTER the life-saving operation – wouldn’t you? Many hospitals are very much on the side of post-op larys having the opportunity to talk through the situation to pre-op, extremely nervous patients, after all, losing one’s greatest form of communication is a terrifying prospect.

On the other hand, we have many hospitals who (somehow) think that post-ops talking to pre-ops is a bad move; ie, the opportunity to discuss with a post-op is simply is not entertained – WHY? What does a freshman out of medical school know about being a laryngectomee?

What does a fully qualified surgeon, even with 100 operation notches on his gunbelt, know about being a laryngectomee? The answer my friends is not ‘blowing in the wind‘ as the answer is simply NOTHING AT ALL. You cannot possibly have any idea what post-surgery feels like unless you have experienced it for yourself – and I would not advocate you try it just for the hell of it!

 Hospitals that frown upon pre-ops being allowed the pearls of wisdom from post-ops are simply NOT doing their emotional bit for their patients; they are simply regressive, Luddites living in the dark ages thinking that a cheery smile and dismissive wave of the hand will suffice – I pity them and the numbskulls that sit behind desks in judgement!

Hospitals that fully support post-ops talking (counselling) pre-ops are progressive for they can easily see the benefits of the new, fearful patient having things explained to them by those that have already ‘been through the mill‘, those that know the pain, the heartache, the silence of self & the frustration of becoming a laryngectomee are the hospitals that you want to be with for they are the ones that WANT to help you to the best of THEIR ability whereas the regressive (above described) know the surgical side inside out but care not much about the emotional side of things for it is totally heartless to deny a pre-op the all calming knowledge that a post-op can impart.

The benefits of the pre-op knowledge (from a post-op) are simply endless with the main facet being that putting the pre-op’s mind at ease is the greatest benefit to that pre-op. To have someone take away the fear of being a laryngectomee is literally priceless for fear of the unknown has always been the dread of mankind. Think about these simple facts if you will please (you are the very nervous pre-op):

a… You are communicating with a laryngectomee in person

b… They have a robotic (Dalek) voice but still talk

c… They are sitting in front of you, so they survived

d… They travel to the hospital so they are not crippled or bedridden

e… They may be back at work which has to be amazing

f… They go out in public to a pub/restaurant

g… They answer your questions honestly

h… They simply put your mind at rest

OK, folks, there are a few positives – and there can be NO negatives to having the prior knowledge (unless you simply don’t want any prior knowledge of course)! We all know that ‘coming round’ after a major operation is a long & slow process and the first few days are not going to be that pleasant but the body is an amazing creation for it always seeks to repair itself.

Even better than that is the fact that your nurses know exactly what you have been through and check on you every 15 minutes through the first 24hrs (the reason we are buying this monitor for our local hospital Lary ward) & then every hour once the body has settled down. You can take tiny sips of water to freshen your teeth/gums up a bit and in the back of your mind, you know that many before you have survived to tell the tale. It’s all upwards & onwards from thereon my friends!

To be denied the opportunity of having the whole shebang explained to you by a post-op lady is simply cruel and no one facing this operation should be denied this opportunity. If you want to know then the knowledge is there but if you don’t and wish to remain in ignorance then at least that is YOUR freedom of choice!

In Loving Memory

In Loving Memory

Sometimes we get donations that are made ‘in memory of loved ones. Quite often these come via the Funeral Directors as the donations are made in lieu of flowers at funerals. We are truly touched and grateful to receive these donations at what must be a very difficult time for all concerned.

We also receive donations from those thinking of the loved ones they lost on a certain date and you can be assured that we are very grateful as all our donations are put toward helping those with throat cancers.

Whether the donation will be made directly from the family and individuals or via the Funeral Director, you can specify a message that we will happily add to our “Absent Friends” page on the website. We can also add a picture of your loved one if you would like us to.

When sending in your donation please include a short letter explaining who the donation is in memory of etc…

If you also include your name and address, we can send you an acknowledgment letter to confirm that we have received the donation and that it has been put into the fund you required.

Please make cheques payable to:

“20-20 Voice” Cancer

Leave a Legacy

Leave a Legacy

As with most charities, “20-20 Voice” Cancer relies on the kindness of all those who donate time, money & energy, but leaving a legacy; ie donating to a charity in a will is not something that many people really think about these days.

However, these days it is a simple matter to create your own will, or, if a complicated set of instructions be the case, then there are plenty of solicitors at hand who specialize in such matters and advise quite comprehensively indeed.

We ‘lays’ are still able to tell the tale-thanks to modern technology, ie, electrolarynx, etc. We are a species apart for we have that ability, despite losing our voices, to carry on and rebuild our lives. Indeed, many ‘lay’ return to work some months after their major operation-and all credit to them for that!

We know that medical equipment is expensive but we also now know the power of the “Flexi-Video-RhinoLaryngoscope” (VFR) and the exciting prospects it offers in saving the trauma of losing the voice box, but we also know the horrendous costs involved to purchase. At £15,000 apiece they are not cheap.

“20-20 Voice” Cancer, having now purchased the much-needed FVR at almost £14,000, know only too well that we need every penny we can get in order to buy more of this vital sort of equipment and pay for the support that new plays need, for you can be sure of one thing, and that is that after we have left this earthly world there will be plenty more head, neck & throat cancer sufferers following in our footsteps.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that we have left a little something to help those who may have to go through some (or all) of what we have been through and that ‘little something has made their particular journey a whole heap easier?

Who knows, we might, with modern technology updating every week, have made that vital contribution that has saved cancer victims from losing their ability to speak!

That’s how far medical aid is progressing and that is what you can help to achieve with your generosity in your last will & testament. We are a species apart in the world of cancer for we have been, we have seen and some of us are still able to tell the tale.

Can YOU help someone after you’ve gone?

Simple Will rules (a guideline)

1… A share of your estate. After you have provided for your loved ones, you can leave a share of what remains to charity. This is known as a ‘residuary gift’.

2… A cash gift. This is when you leave an exact sum of money to us. It’s known as a ‘pecuniary gift.

3… A specific item or item gift. Over the years charities have received everything from a stream to antique jewelry. The point is that whatever the item is, that item can be transposed into a cash gift for the charity.

4… A gift in trust. You can leave a gift for someone to use over a period of time. When the time has ended, the gift can be passed on to other recipients, such as a charity.

Important: Make sure that YOU give your assets to the people and cause you to love them most, don’t think “oh I’ll let them sort it out when I’m gone” or family frictions may set in. Worse still, without a Will detailing your wishes, your whole estate could end up belonging to the Crown or government.

Write a Will to keep control after you have gone, you know it makes sense!

Alternatively, people are now being asked to send the favored charity a cheque instead of spending money on flowers for the deceased’s funeral. This is an excellent way of ensuring that your loved one’s wishes are carried out with the minimum of fuss and if it is decided that we are to benefit from a loved one’s passing then simply make any cheques out to:

“20-20 Voice” Cancer (and post to)
37, Windley Road,

Please don’t forget that we are here to help, no matter what the problem may be and we can always be contacted on 07757-382970 or by text (same number).  Remember that whoever answers your call may have a speech impediment or it may be a ‘bad line’, so please try to be patient. Alternatively, you can use our secure email service and we will answer you as soon as humanly possible.

Say Hi to Ray Coates

Say Hi to Ray Coates

“Who’s he then?” I hear many of you ask. Well, folks, Ray is one lucky gentleman for he feared the worst back in 2008, went to see his GP, and, luckily, was referred straight away for tests, etc. They found what Ray had feared – Cancer. The journey starts here:

Cancer of the tonsil/s is somewhat rare but with fast, expert treatment it can be eradicated and the voice saved-which is a far better outcome than many of us could ever hope for! Not only has fast, but the expert treatment also saved Ray’s voice, it has left him with the ability to carry on his love of music and singing!

I have met with Ray, who lives in Aylesbury, and welcomed him to “20-20 Voice” Cancer, and in return, Ray has not only become our Aylesbury/Bucks representative but also our ‘anthem‘ as we promote his heartfelt song “The Voice Within” to raise not only our profile but funds as well. Ray is currently completing an album which will go on release sometime soon. He has his own facebook page for you to visit.

Please check out the links provided and read all about this courageous man who has retained the ability to entertain us all through song. Ray has a theatre (singing, not medical  ) appointment looming and also school play performances as well as growing media attention.

Mouth Cancers

Mouth Cancers

The area of the mouth (oral cavity) includes the:

  • lips
  • front two-thirds of the tongue
  • upper and lower gums
  • inside lining of the cheeks and lips
  • the floor of the mouth, under the tongue
  • the roof of the mouth (the hard palate)
  • the area behind the wisdom teeth.

Mouth cancers are the most common cancers which affect the head and neck area. They can begin in any of the parts of the mouth mentioned above.

Around 1,400 people are diagnosed with cancer of the tongue each year in the UK and 1,500 are diagnosed with cancers affecting other parts of the mouth. Cancer of the lip is uncommon, with fewer than 300 people diagnosed with it every year.

Mouth cancer is more common in people over 50 and it usually affects more men than women. Most mouth cancers develop from cells that line the mouth or cover the tongue and are called squamous cell cancers.

The main causes of mouth cancers are life’s general pleasures of smoking and drinking heavily and the risk is greater if you do both, but always remember that 80% of all lung cancers occur in NONsmokers! Other causes include chewing tobacco or chewing betel or paan, which is a cultural tradition in some Asian communities.

There are other things that may increase the risk of getting mouth cancer, such as eating a poor diet and not cleaning your teeth, or seeing a dentist regularly enough. Having a weakened immune system or a virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV) (63%) are also possible risk factors. Being exposed to sunlight over a long period of time is a risk factor for cancer of the lip.

Mouth cancer, like other cancers, isn’t infectious and can’t be passed on to other people.

The two most common symptoms of mouth cancer are:

  • a mouth ulcer  that refuses to heal
  • discomfort or pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away.

Not everyone has pain or an ulcer. Other symptoms include:

  • a white (leukoplakia) or red (erythroplakia) patch in the mouth or throat that doesn’t go away
  • a lump or thickening on the lip, or in the mouth or throat
  • difficulty or pain with chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • loose teeth for no obvious reason
  • a lump in the neck
  • a lot of weight loss over a short time
  • bad breath (halitosis).

These symptoms are common in conditions other than cancer. However, if you have any of these symptoms it is important to let your doctor or dentist know straight away. Mouth cancer can be treated more successfully when it’s diagnosed early.

Tongue Cancers

Tongue Cancers

What is tongue cancer?

There are two parts to your tongue, the oral tongue and the base of the tongue. Cancer can develop in either. The oral tongue is the part you see when you poke your tongue out at someone, the front two-thirds of your tongue. Cancers that develop in this part of the tongue come under a group of cancers called oral cancer.

The base of the tongue is the back third of the tongue (nb: Michael Douglas). This part is very near your throat (pharynx). Cancers that develop in this part are called oropharyngeal cancers (pronounced oar-o-farin-gee-al).

Types of tongue cancer

The most common type of tongue cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (SCCA). Squamous cells are the flat, skin-like cells that cover the lining of the mouth, nose, larynx, thyroid, and throat. Squamous cell carcinoma is the name given to cancer that starts in these cells.

Symptoms of tongue cancer

The symptoms of tongue cancer may include

  •  Red/white patch/es on the tongue, that will not go away
  • A never-ending sore throat that refuses to settle down
  • A consistent sore spot on the tongue
  • Pain or slight spasms when swallowing
  • Continuous numbness in the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding from a noninjured tongue
  • Sometimes even a pain in the ear, though this is very rare indeed

Do bear in mind that these symptoms may be due to a less serious medical condition. But it is important to check symptoms with your GP just to make sure. However, there are many GPs who simply don’t have the knowledge so if the symptoms persist – you persist and get a second opinion! (Michael Douglas was found to have ‘back of tongue cancer’ by his 4th Dr – a specialist)

Risks and causes of tongue cancer

We don’t know the exact causes of most head and neck cancers, but several risk factors have been identified, the largest factor being HPV @ 63%. The rapid increase in these types of cancer has been put down to a relaxing society from the 60’s onwards-‘free love’, ‘flower power’ etc, and the main cause in the older generation has been oral sex. Needless to say, smoking/chewing tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, and pipes) has been named & shamed though it only accounts for 12% of cases whereas drinking a lot of alcohol comes in at 23% (unknowns = 2%) There is information about the risks and causes of mouth cancer in the mouth cancer section.

Awareness – Much More Is Needed!

Awareness – Much More Is Needed

Please Note: This is worldwide information I found, copied, and pasted on a site named

Worldwide, head and neck cancer account for more than 550,000 cases and 380,000 deaths annually.

In the United States, head and neck cancer accounts for 3 percent of malignancies, with approximately 63,000 Americans developing head and neck cancer annually and 13,000 dying from the disease.

In Europe, there were approximately 250,000 cases (estimated 4 percent of the cancer incidence) and 63,500 deaths in 2012.

Males are affected significantly more than females with a ratio ranging from 2:1 to 4:1. The incidence rate in males exceeds 20 per 100,000 in regions of France, Hong Kong, the Indian subcontinent, central and eastern Europe, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and among African Americans in the United States.

Mouth and tongue cancers are more common in the Indian subcontinent; nasopharyngeal cancer is more common in Hong Kong, and pharyngeal and/or laryngeal cancers are more common in other populations; these factors contribute disproportionately to the overall cancer burden in these Asian countries.

The incidence of laryngeal cancer, but not oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer, is approximately 50 percent higher in African American men. The mortality associated with both laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancer is significantly higher in African American men, which may reflect the lower prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) positivity.

In 2016/2017, the “20-20 Voice” Cancer charity carried out an in-depth survey, worldwide regarding the start-to-finish process of self concerns, Dr visits, diagnosis & treatment: you may find the results very interesting in light of the above which has now become available!