World Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Day is celebrated on July 27th. One of the main problems for the treatment of this type of cancer is the late diagnosis, which occurs in 60% of cases, leaving sequelae in the patient.
We all want to avoid cancer, but this is not always easy. On the other hand, in head and neck cancer we can prevent the disease simply by avoiding exposure to factors that are related to the onset of the disease. There are well-known risk factors that can be easily avoided. The first factor: overexposure to sunlight. The second factor: cigarettes and alcohol and the situation is worse when the person has the habit of consuming large amounts of alcohol and smokes a lot. The third factor: HPV virus, the same one that is related to the appearance of cervical cancer in women.
In addition to prevention, early diagnosis and rapid initiation of treatment are essential for the cure of head and neck cancer, reducing the impact on patients’ quality of life. The Teaching and Research Center (NEP), through a partnership between the Translational Research Laboratory and the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), develops the research project “Association between clinical and immunopathological aspects of orofacial pain and quality of life in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the oral mucosa”. The research is carried out by the master’s student Francine Barros de Oliveira, from the Postgraduate Program in Pathology at UFMG, under the guidance of Profa. Dr. Camila Megale Almeida-Leite (Dept of Morphology/Institute of Biological Sciences/UFMG) and co-supervision of Dr. Patricia Rocha Martins.
Dr. Paulo Guilherme de Oliveira Salles, Dr. Paulo Guilherme de Oliveira Salles, also participate in the research as members of the Mário Penna Institute (IMP) team. Juliana Maria Braga Sclauser and Dr. Letícia Braga, in addition to the medical team at the head and neck clinic. The project aims to evaluate in oral cancer patients seeking treatment at IMP, potential relationships between cancer characteristics, orofacial pain presented by the patient and quality of life.
According to Dr. Camila Megale, this research is the starting point for more detailed studies on the type of orofacial pain that patients with head and neck cancer have and how the type of cancer can interfere with pain as a symptom. “In the future, the results obtained will allow for an early treatment of the patient’s pain in a more specific way, based on information obtained from the biopsy and the initial consultations, which will make orofacial pain relief more effective.”