Head and neck cancer: The hidden sign in a person’s ear that should never be ignored

Head and neck cancer: The hidden sign in a person’s ear that should never be ignored


Every year around 12,000 people in Britain are diagnosed with head and neck cancers. Cancer Research UK announced that incident rates for head and neck cancers have increased by a third since the early 1990s. Leading head and neck cancer charity, The Swallows have revealed the number of people they’re supporting has quadrupled this year alone. Founder and chairman Chris Curtis stresses the importance of early intervention and treatment of the cancer and how vital it is when it comes to survival. Feeling this sensation in your ears could be an early warning sign.


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Cancers that are known collectively as head and neck cancers usually being in the squamous cells that line the moist, mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck.

Head and neck cancers can also begin in the salivary glands, but salivary gland cancers are relatively uncommon.

Cancers of the head and neck are further categorised by the area of the head or neck in which they begin.

Spotting the early signs of head and neck cancer is crucial for early treatment.

Mr Curtis said: “The earlier we can get people diagnosed, the better outcome. But despite it being the fastest growing type of cancer in the world, there’s still a lack of awareness around head and neck cancer tumours.

There are certain key symptoms you need to look out for and some of them are less well known.

For example, persistent blocked ears – the type you might get after diving into a swimming pool – or persistent earache, could be a sign there’s cancer in and around that area.

“Sore gums, ulcers and pain in your teeth, white or red patches in the mouth are also a tell-tale symptom.

“Most people might shrug it off and put it down to an ulcer.

“A doctor may also dismiss it and send you to the dentist.

“But it could well be a cancerous lesion that’s growing and it’s easy to miss.”


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Other signs of the disease

According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, the ears, nose and throat are the most common areas affected by head and neck cancers.

It states: “Symptoms of this cancer may depend on where the cancer develops and how it spreads.

“In addition to physical signs of head and neck cancer, these tumours often cause symptoms that are similar to less serious conditions, like the common cold.

“Changes in voice, headaches, sore throat or a cough may be symptoms of throat cancer.”

Other signs include a lump in the nose, neck or throat with or without pain, a persistent sore throat, trouble swallowing, unexplained weight loss, frequent coughing and trouble breathing.

“If you’re an older gentleman or lady, you often just put that down to age. It’s not immediately obvious that something is wrong.

“Before I was diagnosed, I was falling asleep in my chair every night at 9pm.

“I just thought I was working too hard,” said Mr Curtis.

If you suspect you may have the early warning signs of throat and neck cancer speak to your GP about the possible cause and best treatment going forward.

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