Head and Neck Cancers

Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancers cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, and nasal cavity can be traced principally to cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoking, the use of spit tobacco, and the excessive consumption of alcohol. Additionally, 50% of cancers of the tonsils and tongue base are related to HPV infection. Head and neck cancer occurs twice as often in men as in women and most frequently in men over 40.

Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery are the primary methods of treatment for head and neck cancers. Patients often endure intense mouth and throat inflammation and some require disfiguring surgeries, but many can be cured. The five-year survival rate is about 62%.

Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer is relatively rare, accounting for only 1% of cancers in men (about 7900 cases per year), but it is the most common cancer in men age 20-35. Testicular cancer is much more common among white Americans than

CRITICAL CONSUMER

Sunscreens and Sun-Protective Clothing

With consistent use of the proper clothing, sunscreens, and common sense, you can lead an active outdoor life and protect your skin against most sun-induced damage.

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Clothing

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Dark-colored, tightly woven fabrics provide reasonable protection from the sun. Another good choice is clothing made from special sun-protective fabrics; these garments have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating, similar to the SPF rating for sunscreens.

• Wear a hat. A good choice is a broad-brimmed hat or a legionnaire-style cap that covers the ears and neck. Wear sunscreen on your face even if you are wearing a hat.

• Wear sunglasses. Exposure to UV rays can damage the eyes and cause cataracts.

Sunscreen

• Use a sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. An SPF rating refers to the amount of time you can stay out in the sun before you burn, compared with not using sunscreen. For example, a product with an SPF of 30 would allow you to remain in the sun without burning 30 times longer, on average, than if you didn’t apply sunscreen. If you’re fair-skinned, have a family history of skin cancer, are at high altitude, or will be outdoors for many hours, use a sunscreen with an even higher SPF.

• Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. The SPF rating of a sunscreen currently applies only to UVB, but a number of ingredients, especially titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are effective at blocking most UVA radiation. In 2011, the FDA announced that sunscreens would be required to pass a new broad-spectrum test to determine how effectively they protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. Starting in summer 2012, products that have passed this test have been allowed to bear the “broad spectrum” label.

• Use a water-resistant sunscreen if you swim or sweat a great deal. Under the new FDA regulations, sunscreens cannot be labeled as “waterproof” or “sweatproof” because these claims overstate the products’ actual effectiveness. In order to be labeled as “water resistant,” a product must remain effective for 40 minutes when the user is not swimming or sweating, or for 80 minutes if the user is swimming or sweating.

• I f you have acne, look for a sunscreen that is labeled “non-comedogenic,” which means that it will not cause pimples.

• Shake sunscreen before applying. Apply it 30 minutes before exposure to allow it time to bond to the skin. Reapply sunscreen frequently and generously to all sun-exposed areas (many people overlook their temples, ears, and sides and backs of their necks). Most people use less than half as much as they need to attain the full SPF rating. One ounce of sunscreen is enough to cover an average-size adult in a swimsuit. Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Also be sure to reapply sunscreen after activities, such as swimming, that could remove sunscreen.

• If you’re taking medications, ask your physician or pharmacist about possible reactions to sunlight or interactions with sunscreens. Medications for acne, allergies, and diabetes are just a few of the products that can trigger reactions. If you’re using sunscreen and an insect repellent containing DEET, use extra sunscreen (DEET may decrease sunscreen effectiveness).

Time of Day and Location

• Avoid sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense. Clouds allow as much as 80% of UV rays to reach your skin. Stay in the shade when you can.

• Consult the day’s UV Index, which predicts UV levels on a 0-10+ scale, to get a sense of the amount of sun protection you’ll need. Take special care on days with a rating of 5 or above. UV Index ratings are available in local newspapers, from the weather bureau, or from certain websites.

• UV rays can penetrate at least three feet below the surface of water, so swimmers should wear water-resistant sunscreens. Snow, sand, water, concrete, and white-painted surfaces are also highly reflective of UV rays.

Tanning Salons

• Stay away from tanning salons! Despite advertising claims to the contrary, the lights used in tanning parlors are damaging to your skin. Tanning beds and lamps emit mostly UVA radiation, increasing your risk of premature skin aging (such as wrinkles) and skin cancer. among Latinos, Asian Americans, or African Americans. Men with undescended testicles are at increased risk for testicular cancer, and for this reason the condition should be corrected in early childhood. Self-examination may help in the early detection of testicular cancer (see the box “Testicle Self-Examination”). Tumors are treated by surgical removal of the testicle and, if the tumor has spread, by chemotherapy. The five-year survival rate is 95%.

The best time to perform a testicular selfexam is after a warm shower or bath, when the scrotum is relaxed.

First, stand in front of a mirror and look for any swelling of the scrotum. Then, examine each testicle with both hands. Place the index and middle fingers under the testicle and the thumbs on top. Roll each testicle gently between the fingers and thumbs. Don’t worry if one testicle seems slightly larger than the other; that’s common. Also, expect to feel the epididymis the soft, sperm-carrying tube at the rear of each testicle.

Perform a self-exam each month. If you find a lump, swelling, or nodule, see your doctor right away. The abnormality may not be cancer, but only a physician can make a diagnosis.

Other possible signs of testicular cancer include a change in the way a testicle feels, a sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum, a dull ache in the lower abdomen or groin, a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum, or pain in a testicle or the scrotum.

Testicular Cancer Resource Center. 2009. How to Do a Testicular Self Examination (http://tcrc.acor.org/tcexam.html; retrieved May 17, 2011); National Cancer Institute. 2010. Testicular Cancer (http://www.cancer.gov/ cancertopics/types/testicular; retrieved May 17, 2011).

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