Head and Neck Cancer (HNC): Make Sense Campaign (MSC)

Head and Neck Cancer (HNC): Make Sense Campaign (MSC)

Make Sense Campaign (MSC)

MSC is a health campaign in Europe to raise awareness in head and neck cancer (HNC).

The aim of the campaign are to raise awareness of head and neck cancer and ultimately improve outcomes for patients with the disease.

How to achieve the above objectives?

  • Educating patients on disease prevention (risk factors)
  • Identifying signs and symptoms of HNC
  • Encouraging early presentation, diagnosis and treatment

In early stage HNC, the survival rate is as high as 80-90% but when it’s diagnosed at more advanced stage (majority of patients), more than 2/3 died within 5 years.

Risk Factors

Educating public about the risk factors of HNC; cigarette smoking, alcohol, HPV.

The risk factors for head of neck cancer are cigarette smoking, alcohol and human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) which can infect not only cervix and anus but also the oropharynx (tonsils, base of tongue, posterior pharyngeal wall, soft palate).

HPV infection is recognised as a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer.

In Malaysia, we need to add another common risk factor, chewing of betal nut/ makan sirih, which consist of three different plants used in combination:

  • the betel nut which is the seed of the areca palm, the betel leaf which comes from the pan plant, and lime.
Illustration only, not promoting its usage; betel leaf with lime seen
Ready to cause cancer: betel leaf and areca nut with lime (kapur) inside

Can I Borrow Your Message?

A simple message for the public, 1 for 3. (1 symptom that last for 3 weeks –> seek medical attention).

The simplicity of the message being conveyed is the strength of this campaign (not the ambiguous campaign name, ‘MSC’).

‘1 for 3’ meaning anyone of one symptom that last for 3 weeks should seek early medical attention.

Signs and Symptoms of HNC

  • Sore tongue, non-healing mouth ulcers and/or red or white patches in the mouth
  • Pain in the throat
  • Persistent hoarseness
  • Pain and/or difficulty swallowing
  • Lump in the neck
  • Blocked nose on one side and/or bloody discharge from the nose


It’s a great campaign, simple enough for the public to understand and take action.

Do you have any of the above symptom(s) that last more than 3 weeks?

If you have it, please seek medical advice promptly.

Who to look for? ENT or dental specialists.


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