“We live in a world of ‘See something, say something,’ and I’m really glad we do,” shared Deborah Norville, longtime CBS host of Inside Edition.
Years ago, a viewer reached out to 60-year-old Norville with concerns about a lump on her neck, previously unnoticed by the host.
After being monitored by doctors for years, the TV host announced the nodule has turned cancerous and she underwent a surgical procedure on April 2, 2019, to have it removed.
Screenings for early detection are vitally important because they can help doctors diagnose cancer early, when it is at its most treatable stage. Though Norville had surgery for the localized cancer, she has been told she will not need chemotherapy or radiation.
Sneaky symptoms, delay of diagnosis
“Head and neck cancers frequently occur in places that are hard to see or feel,” explained Russell Smith, MD, a head and neck surgical oncologist at Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center. “These cancers often do not cause any symptoms, or the symptoms that do occur are the same as those experienced with a common cold. Unfortunately, this can result in a delay of diagnosis.”
If symptoms do occur, they can include:
- A lump in the neck
- Pain in the ear, mouth, or neck
- Voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat
- Weight loss
Decrease your risk
Common risk factors for head and neck cancer are tobacco use and excessive alcohol use. However, there is an increasing number of patients that do not have these risk factors that are developing these cancers.
Other risk factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing head and neck cancer include:
- Prolonged sun exposure
- Poor oral hygiene
- Poor nutrition
‘Screenings are a critical part of our battle’
“We always want to decrease cancer risk and prevent cancer when possible, but screenings are a critical part of our battle against cancer,” said Dr. Smith.
Non-invasive head and neck cancer screenings take less than 10 minutes and can offer peace of mind.
Baptist MD Anderson and Baptist Medical Center South are hosting two free head and neck cancer screenings during Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week, April 7-14. Walk-ins are welcome.
To register for Baptist MD Anderson's screening on April 9, visit bmdacancerscreening.eventbrite.com.
To register for Baptist Medical Center South's screening on April 11, visit bmdasouthcancerscreening.eventbrite.com.