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Survey shows Americans may be missing direct route to head and neck cancer care
Date:4/23/2009

Alexandria, VA Tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed annually with head and neck cancers, but many adults are unaware of doctors who specialize in treating these conditions, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), the association representing America's ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors.

An estimated 35,000 Americans are diagnosed annually with cancers of the head and neck which include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx and pharynx and over 7,500 died from the disease last year. While most cases are linked to tobacco and excessive alcohol use, these cancers are increasingly affecting young, non-smokers with the human-papillomavirus, or HPV. Today, 25 percent of oral, head, and neck cancers 10,000 cases each year might be attributable to a strain of HPV.

When diagnosed very early, oral, head, and neck cancers can be treated without significant complications, increasing chances of survival. However, as the national survey found, many Americans are unaware that ENT doctors treat these cancers or are concerned about having ENT doctors treat these conditions, creating an awareness gap that could pose barriers to direct care. The survey findings include:

  • Almost 6 in 10 adults were most surprised to hear ENT doctors treat head and neck cancers, and almost 7 in 10 expressed concern about having an ENT doctor treat this condition.
  • While 56 percent of Americans would first go to an oncologist to discuss oral, head, and neck cancers, only 2 percent would initially approach an ENT doctor.
  • Only 4 percent of Americans recognize that ENT doctors treat cancers.

Otolaryngologists, also known as ENT doctors, differ from many other physicians in that they are trained in both medicine and surgery, which means they do not need to refer patients to other physicians when ear, nose, throat, or head/neck surgery is needed and, therefore, ca
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Contact: Jessica Mikulski
newsroom@entnet.org
703-535-3762
American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery
Source:Eurekalert

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