Top cancer surgeon urges people to get their symptoms checked

People with symptoms including mouth ulcers, neck lumps and a hoarse voice are being urged not to wait before getting their symptoms checked out.

It comes following the publication of a new international study which found that patients undergoing surgery for head and neck cancer were at no additional risk of contracting COVID-19.

The study, which looked at the outcomes for more than 1,100 head and neck cancer surgeries across 26 countries, was led by Prof Richard Shaw, Consultant Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (pictured).

He made his comments after the results of the observational study were published in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

Prof Shaw said: “We know that it can be scary to come to a hospital or any healthcare setting at the moment, and people are putting off that trip to the GP and waiting that bit longer to see if their symptoms go away. The findings of this study are really important because we can now assure people who need head and neck cancer surgery that it is safe, even during the pandemic.

“Time is of the essence with head and neck cancer and the sooner it is diagnosed the sooner we can treat it – and if we catch it early then the curative surgery required is much less invasive. My message to anyone concerned about symptoms is to get them looked at by a health professional without delay. It could make all the difference.”

Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Neck lumps
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Mouth or throat lumps
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing