One advantage of private groups on Facebook is that you can take an informal poll. This is not a rigorous scientific survey but it does give some reasonably useful information. We have three polls underway at the moment: first symptoms, cancer type and how much technical information patients want.

As you can see from the rough sketch above, a lump in the neck is still the most common first symptom for our members. This makes sense because oropharyngeal cancer is on the rise and often manifests as a swollen neck node. Fortunately this type of head and neck cancer is eminently treatable in spite of the lymph node spread.

Patients also insist that ear pain was their first sign and they had great difficulty getting diagnosed. It’s hard for many to recognise that head and neck cancer pain can somethimes refer to the ear.

We will publish the other polls in due course.