For April, Buddy Check 9 is highlighting oral, neck, head and thyroid cancers.

According to the University of Colorado Cancer Center:

  • 65,000 people will be diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2017
  • Smokers are 15 times more likely to develop head and neck cancers than non-smokers
  • 75 percent of head and neck cancer are caused by alcohol and smokeless tobacco

“Of all cancers, head and neck cancer makes up only about 6 percent,” said Dr. Philip Whiting of Sky Ridge Medical Center. “But it is a life-changing type of cancer.”

Symptoms often go too long ignored, meaning they’re not caught until later stages, he said. Which means surgery, radiation and therapy, with some side effects.

“You may never swallow again,” he said.

Screening is an important preventive measure.

Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Voice remaining hoarse or raspy for long periods of time
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A new lump on your neck that isn’t going away
  • Finding it hard to breathe through your nose
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain radiating up the ear and down to neck

As for thyroid cancer, women have three times more risk of developing it than men. If caught early, surgery can be a relatively easy cure.