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Head/neck cancer day

26th July 2019
Posted by Aston Avery

On the eve of World Head and Neck Cancer Day, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), in partnership with patient groups The Swallows and the Mouth Cancer Foundation, announced results from a patient survey exploring the long-term burden of treatment on head and neck cancer patients. After undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer, which can include surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, many patients report an ongoing impact on their day-to-day life. However, 55% of the 118 patients surveyed indicated they did not receive the right level of information in preparation for the complications encountered from treatment.

There are around 11,900 new head and neck cancer cases in the UK every year and the incidence of head and neck cancer has increased by 32% since the early 1990’s. Following treatment, the survey showed 56% of patients had problems with simple things like swallowing, often experiencing severe pain, while two-thirds of patients experienced changes in their voice or speech. The survey also showed self-reported change from pre-to post- treatment in vital areas including a drop in the ability to communicate (37%), memory loss (21%), and trouble sleeping (20%).

Aston spoke to Rachel Parsons, patient ambassador, The Mouth Cancer Foundation, and a survivor of mouth cancer about the results, about her diagnosis. She also gave our listeners advice as to what treatments are available.