Green July: prevention against head and neck cancer

Green July is the month of awareness to prevent the types of cancer that affect the head and neck.

Across the country, actions are designed to bring information to the population about risk factors and ways to prevent these diseases.

Another objective of green july is to make people also understand the importance of early diagnosis.

Despite the whole month being focused on the theme, July 27, which is the World Day for Awareness and Fight against Head and Neck Cancer. 

We explain in the text below what the main objectives of the campaign are and how it is possible to prevent these diseases. Read on to find out more!


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July Verde’s goal is to raise public awareness of the importance of preventing the types of cancer that can affect the head and neck region. It also aims to warn about risk factors, such as smoking , alcohol consumption and HPV infection .

This campaign, created by the Brazilian Society of Head and Neck Surgery (SBCCP) and the Association of Mouth and Throat Cancer (ACBG Brazil), covers the prevention of tumors in regions such as mouth, tongue, soft and hard palate, gums, cheeks , tonsils, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, thyroid and paranasal sinuses.

The campaigns are important to emphasize the importance of people paying attention to the appearance of lesions in the mouth that do not heal, nodules in the cervical region and persistent hoarseness.

The numbers of head and neck cancer cases in Brazil, surveyed by the National Cancer Institute (INCA), reveal the importance of this action.

According to the institution, it is estimated that 43,000 new cases of head and neck cancer appear annually in the country.

In women, thyroid cancer is the most common, affecting 7 out of every 100,000 women a year. In men, cancer that affects the oral cavity is the most common, affecting 10 out of 100 thousand men a year.

In all, about 10,000 people are fatal victims of cancer of the larynx and oral cavity.

These are expressive numbers within a population as large as that of Brazil. In addition, it is even more significant to note that 75% of cases of these types of cancer do not receive an early diagnosis.

The motto of the campaign in 2019 is “Cancer is in our face, but sometimes it is not seen”.

One of the purposes is to reinforce not only the importance of prevention, but also of diagnosis, treatment and cure.

The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chance of reducing the functional and psychological sequelae that may occur, which have a very large impact on patients’ quality of life.

Read more: Smoking is the biggest cancer risk factor in men

Origin of Green July

The campaign was created in partnership between the Brazilian Society of Head and Neck Surgery (SBCCP) and the Mouth and Throat Cancer Association (ACBG Brasil), which are institutions that have existed for a long time in the country.

However, Green July has recently become a national campaign. In 2016, the responsible associations began to effectively engage all states in the country in their actions.

In 2017, the bill 8086/2017 was created, which officially establishes the month of July as the month of awareness and fight against these types of cancer.

What is the importance of Green July?

Green July is essential to prevent, detect and treat head and neck cancer early, as this is a public health problem that affects around 500 thousand people worldwide annually.

The scenario is also worrying in Brazil. Mouth cancer, for example, is the 4th most common type in some regions of the country.

In addition, the campaign is important so that it is possible to make the diagnosis earlier. Most cases are discovered at an advanced stage, which makes the treatment more delicate and the chance of consequence and greater complications.

In recent decades, it has been observed that young people of both sexes are being more affected, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases in young women.

Most of the patients do not discover the tumors early and have an impaired quality of life, which may impair their ability to speak or eat.

Read more: New test may facilitate early detection of cance r

Green July Campaign in 2019

In 2019, the 4th edition of the July Green campaign takes place. The theme chosen by SBCCP and ABCG Brasil this year is “Cancer is in the face, but sometimes you don’t see it”. In the previous edition, the slogan was “Who loves includes – #EntreNessa”.

There are several actions promoted by the regional offices of these institutions.

For this edition, actions are planned to disseminate information about the disease through social networks, press and leaflets. In addition, there are walks, workshops, lectures and educational events.

Types of head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancer is a generic way of referring to all types of tumor that can arise in the region of the aerodigestive tracts, such as in the tongue, mouth, tonsils, gums, paranasal sinuses, cheeks, larynx and pharynx.

The treatment of these diseases, regardless of location, requires the monitoring of a specialist in the field of oncology and, in some cases, psychological monitoring as well.

It can be done by performing radiotherapy and / or chemotherapy and, in some cases, surgery is also required to remove the tumor.

Read more: New drug prevents metastasis in cancer patients

Depending on the stage of the disease, even with treatment, the patient may have some damage to the anatomy and function of the affected region, such as impaired voice or difficulty in swallowing and chewing food.

These pathologies can be divided into 3 main types according to the affected region, being known as oral cancer, oropharyngeal cancer and cancer in the larynx.

They can also be classified according to the type of tumor present, divided between squamous cell carcinoma, adenoid and rare types:

  • Epidermoid : responsible for 90% of cases and is more related to alcohol consumption and smoking;
  • Adenoid : may be an adenoid cystic or mucoepidermoid carcinoma, causing, in most cases, the appearance of tumors in the salivary glands;
  • Rarer cases : they represent 5% of the cases, called as lymphomas, sarcomas and adenocarcinomas.

Symptoms that can manifest

These types of cancer can cause some characteristic symptoms. Therefore, the July Green campaign aims to inform about them so that people can identify and seek medical help as soon as possible.

With early diagnosis, the chances of cure without complications are greater.

The main symptoms that people should be aware of are:

  • Mouth or skin sores that do not heal;
  • Frequent bad breath;
  • Irritation or pain in the throat;
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing food;
  • Hoarseness persisting for more than 2 weeks.

How to prevent?

The best way to reduce the number of head and neck cancer cases in Brazil is to alert the population of the risks, publicizing the symptoms and risk factors. Thus, in addition to helping in prevention, it is possible to achieve an earlier diagnosis.

The sooner the diagnosis is made, the better for treatment. Therefore, for this, it is important to be aware of the symptoms.

The main risk factors are smoking, excessive sun exposure, alcohol consumption and infections caused by HPV (human papillomavirus).

Tobacco is estimated to be the cause of 97% of laryngeal cancer cases. When associated with alcohol consumption, the risk can be 5 times greater.

One of the factors that contributes to the increase in cases of mouth and neck cancer in young people is the practice of oral sex without the use of condoms, increasing the transmission of the HPV virus.

Therefore, to reduce the risk, it is important to use condoms and be vaccinated against HPV.

Read more: HPV: vaccine, what it is, symptoms, transmission, treatment and more

Other habits for prevention include:

  • Maintain a healthy diet;
  • Practice physical exercises;
  • Maintain good personal hygiene;
  • Use sunscreen and moderately expose yourself to the sun;
  • Carry out periodic consultations, especially in case of any symptoms.

Read more: Changing 4 habits can reduce up to 20,000 cancer cases

Around 700 thousand cases of head and neck cancer are registered annually in the world. In Brazil, the incidence is high.

Mouth cancer is the 4th most common type of tumor in certain regions, with men 3 times more affected than women.

These numbers are worrisome and are directly related to late diagnosis and risk factors such as smoking, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption.

Maintaining a preventive posture is essential throughout the year, but it is important that campaigns such as July Green take place to reinforce the population at risk.

By making regular medical appointments, paying attention to symptoms and with some changes in habit, it is possible to prevent these types of cancer.

Share this information so that more people can become aware of the importance of the campaign.