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What do I need to know about caring for someone with head and neck cancer?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Caring for people with head and neck cancer involves helping them deal with the effects of the cancer or therapy. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure that the person visits their doctor on a regular basis. This is necessary even if the cancer has been cured, because the cancer may return (recur) or the person may develop a new cancer. Using tobacco or alcohol increases the risk of recurrence or a new cancer, so you should encourage the individual to avoid them. Individuals with head and neck cancer often have pain, either because of the cancer or the treatment, so you should help them obtain appropriate pain relief medications if necessary. A person with head and neck cancer may also have speech, swallowing, and nutritional problems, which may require help from speech therapists and nutritionists. They may also have difficulty coping with the changes caused by the disease or treatment, and should benefit from emotional support from yourself and others (such as support groups).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.