(WYTV)- What is your risk for developing a cancer in your head or in your neck?

It can mean trouble with your tonsils, your soft palate and base of your tongue.

We are making progress in treating these cancers. In the past, doctors called the treatment for head and neck cancer somewhat “heavy handed.” What that means is that often curing the cancer brought on long-term side effects with eating and swallowing.

Today, it’s different.

“More than 90% of the tumors that we see are treated and cured. so the prognosis is good. And we want the treatment effect to be as minimal as possible as that person goes on to live year after year,” said Dr. Eric Moore of the Mayo Clinic.

Now, surgeons have minimally invasive surgery, and they enter through the mouth. When they do that, they can see their way around and can approach the tumor and take it out without any significant cuts. Once the tumor is removed, treatment still may include some small amount of radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

You can lower your risk of many head and neck cancers by not smoking and not using smokeless tobacco, by limiting alcohol, using lip balm that contains sunscreen and visiting the dentist regularly.