In a recent BBC Three documentary, Coventry Consultant ENT Surgeon Mr Hisham Mehanna has helped raise awareness of the relatively unknown oropharyngeal cancer, which is one of the UK’s highest rising cancers, having more than doubled in the past decade.
The ‘Is oral sex safe?’ programme, presented by actress Jamie Winstone, lifts the lid on oropharyngeal cancer, which in the vast majority of cases (approximately seven in every 10 patients) is thought to be caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can contracted through oral sex. The oropharynx connects the mouth to the top of the throat and the areas that can be affected by the cancer include the back third of the tongue, the soft area at the back of the roof of the mouth (the soft palate), the tonsils and two ridges of tissue in front of and behind the tonsils, and the back wall of the throat.
Mr Mehanna, who practices at the Warwickshire Head and Neck Clinic at BMI The Meriden Hospital and at University Hospital Coventry, is one of the country’s leading experts on the head and neck cancer, has spent the past 18 months on a major research programme to understand how big the problem is in the UK. He was featured in the documentary discussing the rising number of cases and performing head and neck surgery.
“Oropharyngeal cancer can have devastating effects with some extreme cases suffering from a crumbling jaw, which can involve removal of healthy bone from one part of the body to implant into the mouth,” Mr Mehanna commented. “On average, 1100 new cases of throat and mouth cancer are diagnosed each year and it’s estimated that 70% are caused by HPV.
“I hope that programmes like this documentary help alert people to the dangers of the virus and raise awareness of symptoms of the cancer so that it can be caught early.”
Anyone experiencing the following symptoms should visit their GP or a dedicated head and neck specialist for assessment to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment can be expedited where necessary:
- A neck or thyroid lump
- A persistent sore throat or sore ear
- Difficulty swallowing
- Altered voice
- Ongoing loss of appetite
For more information about Warwickshire Head and Neck Clinic at BMI The Meriden Hospital call 02476 647 070 or visit www.warwickshireheadneckclinic.com