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From 20 to 24 September the fourth edition of #tienilatestasulcollo, an initiative that recalls the importance of prevention

Back to Italy from 20 to 24 September, with the fourth edition, #tienilatestasulcollo, the awareness campaign on the early diagnosis of head and neck cancers, promoted by the Italian Association of Head and Neck Oncology (AIOCC) on the occasion of the European initiative Make Sense Campaign 2021. «Ignoring the symptoms does not eliminate the problem. In head and neck cancers, a check-up can save your life»: This is the message chosen for Italy, which invites the population not to underestimate the first signs and to undergo the necessary diagnostic checks.

The initiative: a website and specialists at your disposal

In 2020 almost 10 thousand Italians were diagnosed with head and neck cancer. They are different forms of cancer that affect the nose, lips, tongue, inside of the mouth, salivary glands, larynx and pharynx that are often diagnosed late, at an advanced stage, when therapies need to be more invasive and the chances of healing are less. Precisely because of the area of ​​the body in which these tumors develop, they are often easily visible, yet several international surveys have shown that they are little known and the symptoms are underestimated. Also to facilitate early diagnosis during the #tienilatestasulcollo campaign, carried out with the non-conditioning contribution of Merck, it is possible to book free video consultations with the doctors of the Italian specialist centers participating in the initiative. Through a web portal, available from 20 September to 1 October 2021, specialists will be able to offer useful information and indications and, if necessary, help to arrive at a timely diagnosis. On the portal users can evaluate the presence and severity of any symptoms by filling in a simple anonymous questionnaire who, if necessary, directs them to an online video consultation with the specialist or to the nearest specialized center for further information.

Beware of these symptoms

Prevention and early diagnosis in 9 out of 10 cases can save lives: just think that 75% of the cancers discovered every year in Italy is attributable to the consumption of tobacco and alcoholic beverages. And that, if identified in the early stages and in the absence of lymph node involvement, these neoplasms have cure rates of nearly 90%. “In 2020, more than 3 thousand deaths from malignant neoplasms that originated in the upper respiratory tract, 30% of patients – he explains Roberto Maroldi, president of AIOCC and director of Radiology 2 at the Civil Hospital of Brescia -. The personal history of many of them could have been very different, because when the cancer is identified at an early stage the cure rate is much higher, over 80%. Swelling of the neck, sore throat, burning or sores in the mouth, persistent hoarseness, painful and uncomfortable swallowing and subsequent malnutrition and weight loss, blocked nose or nosebleed, earache: in the presence of one of these symptoms that persist for at least three weeks, do not waste time and immediately seek medical advice – continues the expert -. The invitation is to take advantage of the opportunity of the video consultations available during the campaign, virtual again this year due to Covid ». The Make Sense campaign is an international initiative promoted by the European Head and Neck Society (EHNS), which aligns well with the European Commission’s first cancer plan (EU Beating Cancer Plan) launched in 2021.

Why it is important to vaccinate 12-year-olds against the HPV virus

“The presence of the recommendations relating to head and neck tumors contained in the European oncological plan Beating Cancer Plan is a source of extreme satisfaction for us – he comments Lisa Licitra, AIOCC member and director of the Head – Neck Cancer Medical Oncology, at the IRCCS Foundation National Cancer Institute Milan -. We must not forget that among those responsible for these neoplasms (especially of the oropharynx, oral cavity and larynx) there is also the human papillomavirus infection: this is why it is important to take advantage of the opportunity of vaccination offered free of charge to all 12-year-olds in Italy. In fact, in the European document reference is made to supporting prevention of alcohol and smoking and it is recommended to achieve Hpv vaccination coverage for 90% of women and the extension of vaccination also to young men. In addition, many types of head and neck cancer are infrequent: while Europe has formed and made operational networks on rare cancers, Italy has not yet followed up on the actions approved in 2017 by the State-Regions Conference through which the National Rare Cancer Network which should also interface with the European one. We hope that we can get there quickly ».

The crucial role of rehabilitation for the sick

It is also the difference in survival rates the facility where you are treated: multidisciplinary teams are needed in which the various specialists for these tumors make decisions by comparing themselves. “Surgeons, oncologists and radiotherapists must work alongside nutritionists and rehabilitators (speech therapist or experts in swallowing, phonetics, smell and taste recovery) – he concludes Roberto Persio, national councilor of the Italian Laryngectomy Association (Ailar) -, because after treatment for a head and neck cancer patients often have to face important changes from a physical and psychological point of view, but through adequate information and support, barriers can be overcome ed it is very often possible to return to a normal life. It is necessary to link the work of the National Network on Rare Cancers with that of Euracan, and to draw up the National Oncological Plan with promptness without neglecting assistance and rehabilitation paths and the quality of life of patients, as highlighted in the EU Beating Cancer Plan. The role of associations in this is decisive, so the activities of volunteer caregivers in and out of hospitals must be restored as soon as possible “.

September 19, 2021 (change September 19, 2021 | 13:42)

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