After two editions in digital mode, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the ‘Make sense campaign’, the European education and awareness campaign for the early diagnosis of head and neck cancer, continues in presence until 23 September, in Italy with the motto ‘Have you got your head in place?’, By the Italian Association of Cervico-Cephalic Oncology (Aiocc). There are over 120 centers, between public and private realities, located throughout the national territory and involved in organizing the early diagnosis days with open doors with free access, or by reservation, to underline, with a shared action, the importance of a quick diagnosis.
The initiative – recalls a note from Aiocc – in 2021 involved 19 European countries (Belgium, Belarus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Kazakhstan, Norway, Holland, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Hungary, Italy) and a non-EU country, Brazil. Although widespread, not many know that head and neck cancer is the seventh most common cancer in Europe: it has an incidence of about half that of lung cancer but twice that of the cervix. . In fact, in Italy alone, in 2020, 9,900 people received a diagnosis of head and neck cancer and 4,100 did not survive the disease, according to “Cancer numbers 2021”, from the Italian Association of Medical Oncology (Aiom).
Experts agree that a quick understanding of the symptoms of the disease is crucial for an early diagnosis, in the presence of which, the survival rate rises to 80-90%, compared to a life expectancy of only five years for those who they discover the disease at an advanced stage, as stated in the same AIOM document. “Are you in your head? is the motto of Aiocc’s ‘Make sense campaign’ to reach and sensitize people not to underestimate symptoms that may indicate the presence of a head and neck tumor: a clear alarm bell, if the symptom does not resolve within 3 weeks , the ‘1per3’ rule “, declares Roberto Maroldi, president of Aiocc and full professor of Radiology at the University of Brescia.” This year – he continues – the awareness and prevention campaign is arousing considerable interest, as evidenced by the large number of people who make use of the free specialist medical consultation offered in more than 120 centers, between public and private realities, who support ”the campaign.
The 1per3 rule should always be kept in mind. Pain in the tongue, ulcers that do not heal and / or red or white patches in the mouth; pain in the throat; persistent hoarseness; pain and / or difficulty swallowing; swelling of the neck; stuffy nose on one side and / or nosebleed: if only one of these symptoms persist for three weeks or more, you should see your doctor.
75% of head and neck cancers are caused by smoking and alcohol. The effect of the two factors is synergistic: the risk multiplies and is 80 times higher for oral cancer and 12 times for that of the larynx compared to those who do not smoke and drink. The risk of developing cancer in these locations would be related to the amount of cigarettes smoked, being double for those who smoke more than 20 per day, compared to those who smoke less than 20. In Italy it is estimated that 31% of cases carcinoma of the oropharynx is due to HPV (Papilloma virus) infection.
The intent of the campaign is not to create alarmism, but an adequate awareness of the alarm bells, together with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, are fundamental elements for safeguarding one’s own health and that of those around us. For ten years now the ‘Make sense campaign’ has pursued the goal of raising awareness as many people as possible through incisive communication, acting concretely through a dense network of hospitals, clinics, health companies (Asl, Ausl, Asst) and private practices, united in the promotion of free checkups open to all. The complete list of medical centers participating in the initiative is available on the aiocc.it website.