About 78 new incidents of cancer relating to the head and the neck are recorded every year in Cyprus, with an average of 30 new cases per annum having to do with the larynx, Health Ministry permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki said on Tuesday.
Addressing a news conference on the occasion of the World Head and Neck Cancer Day, Yiannaki said that the goal is to inform and raise awareness among the public in order to prevent new incidents from appearing.
These types of cancer have their source in the mucous membranes, Yiannaki said, and they appear usually in the region of the mouth cavity, the lips, the pharynx and the nasal cavity.
International statistics, she noted, show cancer rates in these parts of the body see 44 per cent of incidents occurring in the mouth cavity, 31% in the larynx, and 25% in the pharynx.
Men are more often affected than women, as scientific research shows this type of cancer is the fourth most frequent affecting the male population, she added.
“A key risk for this type of cancer to occur is an unhealthy way of life and in particular smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol,” the health ministry official said.
Experts consider that eight out of 10 cases are due to these harmful habits, she added, noting that in certain cases one can also find a gene substrate of the disease. Iron deficiency anaemia, exposure to solar radiation, bad mouth hygiene and certain exposure to certain chemical substances.
It is indicative, she noted, that researchers have found more incidents occurring in people who have been exposed to nickel during the course of their work, while people who work in wood processing or the construction of furniture and shoes are also high on the list of people affected.
Certain viruses such as HPV have also been linked to the occurrence of the disease.
Symptoms include a wound that does not heal, a throat ache that does not subside, difficulty in swallowing or persistent hoarseness, she said, but added that the above symptoms could have a less serious cause and she called on people to consult their doctor or dentist.