Today is World Head and Neck Cancer Day, an annual event which is dedicated to raising awareness of head and neck cancer, and the importance of its early detection in ensuring optimal health outcomes.
With over 5000 Australian annually with head and neck cancer, which include cancers of the tongue, gums, mouth, salivary glands, tonsils, pharynx, nasal cavity and larynx, and more than 17,000 living with them, dentists and other dental professionals play a crucial role in the early diagnosis of patients and in providing education and support to people being treated, especially if radiation therapy is required.
Beyond Five, a national not-for-profit organisation supported by head and neck cancer clinicians across Australia and New Zealand which offers a comprehensive library of resources on head and neck cancer, encourages people to see their dentist on a regular basis and not simply when they think there may be a problem.
Not only are dentists instrumental in early detection but they form an integral part of the cancer care team, before, during and after head and neck cancer treatment.
They can also provide tips on good oral hygiene stresses Beyond Five, an important source of information given that tooth decay is often much faster and more severe after radiotherapy.