A nurse researcher at the Cancer Care Research Centre, based at the University of Stirling is using a research fellowship of more than £90,000 from Cancer Research UK to provide support for people with head and neck cancers.
Mrs Anne Taylor is investigating the information and support needs of people with these cancers and their carers and, in particular, patients affected by cancer of the larynx.
The term 'head and neck cancer' is used to represent a number of different types of cancers that affect the tissues and organs in the head and neck region.
In Scotland approximately 3,500 men and 1,500 women were diagnosed with head and neck cancer in the period 1999 to 2003. Also, approximately 1,200 males and around 300 females were diagnosed with cancer of the larynx in Scotland between 1999-2003.
The majority of these cases were from deprived areas and in many cases individuals do not seek immediate medical advice, presenting with advanced tumours, making treatment more difficult.
There have been no significant improvements in survival rates and outcomes for head and neck cancer patients in Scotland, compared to other countries, which can partly be explained by deprivation and late presentation.
Little is known about the specific information and support needs of head and neck cancer patients and their carers or the reasons why people delay in seeking medical advice.
Research fellow, Mrs Anne Taylor, said: "There is a need to identify ways to improve survival and outcomes for head and neck cancer patients. The impact of treatment for head and neck cancer can have a profound effect on many aspects of the individual patients' and carers' lives and we need to gain an insight in how best to assist and support them."
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Head and neck cancers includes:
- Eye cancer
- Nasal and paranasal sinus cancer (cancers in the nasal cavity and in the sinuses around the nose)
- Nasopharyngeal cancer (the area that connects the back of the nose to the back of the mouth)
- Mouth and oropharyngeal cancer (cancers of the tongue, the gums, cheeks, lip and floor and roof of the mouth)
- Larynx or laryngeal cancer (cancer of the voice box)
- Oesophageal cancer (cancer of the food pipe or gullet)
For further information on head and neck cancer visit CancerHelp UK
Half of all cancers could be prevented by changes to lifestyle. Cancer Research UK's Reduce the Risk campaign has five simple messages to help people reduce their risk of cancer. These are:
- Stop smoking : this is the best present you will ever give yourself
- Stay in shape : cut your cancer risk by keeping a healthy weight
- Eat and drink healthily : limit alcohol and maintain a healthy diet
- Be SunSmart : protect yourself from the sun and harmful UV
- Look after number one : be aware of any body changes and go for screening
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