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Head and neck cancer a tough pill to swallow

23 July 2015

Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon Dr Ben Panizza has pulled together his band of merry surgeons for a free drop-in Head and Neck Clinic ahead of World Head & Neck Cancer day on 27th July.

The clinic was packed with over 70 people in attendance including a lot of PAH staff.  The clinic was successful in identifying a number of people who required further testing and follow up.

Director of the PA Head and Neck Cancer Department Professor Ben Panizza and his team were committed to raising awareness and early identification for this growing group of cancers.

“Head and Neck Cancers are the 5th most common cancer in Australia and are extremely difficult to treat and lead to complicated initial and on-going reconstructive surgeries. Until recently, cancer of the throat was a smoking/drinking disease among old men. Now it’s become a disease of early middle–age professionals,” Prof.Panizza says.

''Oropharyngeal cancer, which is cancer of the tonsils and tongue, is on the rise. Ten years ago we were seeing around one patient every fortnight. Now we encounter about two cases a week. The cancer is divided into two types - cases caused by the human papillomavirus infection and those caused by heavy drinking and smoking.

A/Professor Panizza is urging people to be aware of early symptoms including pain in the throat, difficulty swallowing, and a mass in the neck or referred pain to the ear.

Clinical Nurse of the Head and Neck clinic, Melanie Hickson said the feedback on the day was amazing contributing to the enormous success of the clinic.

“Staff were very interested to come along with many mentioning that it was a relief to have their concerns assessed so they could stop worrying about it,” she said.  “It was good to see a mix of interest in the screening from younger people concerned about the Human Papilloma Virus link to the traditional concerns of reformed smokers.”

Thanks to the contribution of Assoc Prof Ben Panizza, Assoc Prof Chris Perry, Dr Ben Wallwork, Dr James Bowman, Dr Nick Potter, Dr Tom Slaughter, Dr Ross Smith, Dr Nathan Adams and the nursing/admin team in the clinic.

Last updated 7 December 2015
Last reviewed 27 July 2015

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