Doctor Highlights Persistent Sore Throat as ‘Common Red Flag’ for Two Types of Cancer

 Doctor Highlights Persistent Sore Throat as ‘Common Red Flag’ for Two Types of Cancer

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Experts are increasingly concerned about the rise in head and neck cancers, pointing to persistent sore throats as a key symptom of these potentially deadly diseases. The growing prevalence of these cancers is partially attributed to the human papillomavirus (HPV), an often symptomless infection that can trigger the condition.

The issue gained additional visibility when comedian Rhod Gilbert shared his own stage 4 head and neck cancer diagnosis on The Great Celebrity Bake Off. Gilbert’s candid discussion highlighted the importance of recognizing the early warning signs, which can be subtle and easily overlooked.

Dr. Jiri Kubes, medical director at the Proton Therapy Center, emphasized the critical nature of early detection. “Head and neck cancer is one of the fastest-growing types of cancer in the world, and an early diagnosis can make a major difference to the chances of defeating it,” he explained. Dr. Kubes stressed that while some symptoms might be mistaken for less serious conditions, awareness is key.

“A persistent sore throat that lasts more than two weeks, sore gums, ulcers, pain in your teeth, and white or red patches in the mouth are all tell-tale signs of head and neck cancer,” Dr. Kubes noted. He added that persistently blocked ears, earaches, and swelling or unusual resistance in parts of the neck are also common early symptoms.

Despite these warnings, Dr. Kubes reassured that these symptoms do not always indicate cancer but underscored the importance of consulting a doctor if something seems amiss. “While having any of these symptoms does not necessarily need to be a cause for alarm, it’s vital that if you suspect something is not right that you see your doctor,” he advised.

According to Cancer Research UK, around 12,000 people in Britain are diagnosed with head and neck cancers each year, with incidence rates increasing by a third since the early 1990s. Early diagnosis dramatically improves survival odds, with a 90 percent survival chance if detected promptly. In contrast, late diagnosis can see survival rates drop to as low as 40 percent.

Rhod Gilbert, who was diagnosed in 2022, has since returned to performing and remains philosophical about his experience. “I’m lucky to be here at all,” he shared on the Channel 4 show. “I realized when I got cancer that I had been plodding through life thinking ‘Other people get cancer’. There was a point where I didn’t really know what the future held. Just to be here, to be anywhere, is pretty good.”

This poignant reminder from Gilbert, coupled with advice from medical experts, underscores the need for vigilance and prompt action when dealing with symptoms that could indicate head and neck cancer.

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