Beaumont Hospital marks World Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Day
Friday July 31, 2015
Monday this week was World Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Day. What that means was brought home, often graphically, with a series of short talks that evening in the RCSI given by medical professionals who treat the various cancers that occur in the head and neck area. A Head & Neck Screening clinic was also held in OPD to mark the day.
There are some that have genetic links but the incidence of many of these cancers is increased greatly by lifestyle choices - smoking, drinking, exposure to sun. Nothing new in this. But what was shocking was the resulting damage that head and neck cancers can cause to a person's facial features and to the ability to communicate - both of which lie at the core of our personal identities. This was underlined very poignantly through a video which told the story of one of our patients who had a total laryngectomy to remove a cancer of his voicebox which had also spread into surrounding tissues.
With the help of targeted radiation therapies delivered by Beaumont's Dr. Orla McArdle and surgery under Prof. Paul O'Neill, the patient has had his cancer eradicated and with the help of our fantastic speech and language therapy staff, has learned to speak again. It was a very moving story which brought home the human impact of the disease and its aftermath.
Congratulations to Prof O'Neill for organising the first awareness day for these cancers. As we know with all cancers, being aware of the symptoms is key and the earlier the diagnosis and treatment the better the outcomes