Nick Ashford and Throat Cancer. What You Need to Know

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Sad news in the Motown world. Nick Ashford, who with wife Valerie Simpson wrote and performed many Motown hits has died at the age of 70. Besides their best selling hit “Solid Like a Rock,” Ashford and Simpson wrote the legendary songs “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand.” According to his publicist, Ashford died after a long battle with throat cancer. Ashford and Simpson first met in 1964(she was 14, he was 21) at a Harlem church. They decided to start writing songs together, and 10 years later they were married and remained so until his death.

As you may recall, throat cancer is the same disease that Michael Douglas has successfully been battling this past year.

1. Throat cancer is a cancer that forms in tissues of the pharynx (the tube inside the neck that starting behind the nose and ending at the top of the windpipe and esophagus). Throat cancer includes cancer of the nose and sinuses, the mouth (including the tongue, lips, salivary glands and palate). Cancer of the larynx (voice box) may also be included as a type of throat cancer.

2. Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 to 5 percent of all cancers in the United States.

3. These cancers are more common in men and in people over age 55. Men are 4 times more likely than women to develop the disease.

4. People who smoke or otherwise use tobacco (such as smokeless tobacco) are at risk of developing throat cancer.

5. Excessive alcohol use also increases risk. Smoking and drinking alcohol combined lead to an increased risk for throat cancers.

6. Typical symptoms of head and neck cancer include a lump or sore (for example, in the mouth) that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice.

7. Treatment depends on the stage  and location of the tumor and may include surgery, radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, or a combination of all of these.

For more information about Throat Cancer, click here to go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

What is your favorite song from Ashford and Simpson?  Here’s mine:

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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