Head and Neck Cancer is a term that is used to describe malignancies in the mouth, nose, and throat. It is estimated that this type of cancer only accounts for approximately four percent of all cancers in the U.S. CareMount Medical has a team of dedicated physicians that specialize in head and neck cancer. Our goal is to detect, diagnose, and treat cancers at their earliest stage.
During a diagnostic evaluation, the doctor will first evaluate a person’s medical history and discuss the frequency and length of symptoms with the patient. A physical examination will be performed by feeling for lumps around the neck, jaw, cheeks, gums and lips. The doctor will then inspect inside the nose, mouth, and throat to determine if any abnormalities are present.
Further tests will be conducted if any areas of concern are found.
Sometimes, a normal physical examination doesn’t provide the doctor with enough information. That is when a flexible imaging device called an endoscope is inserted through the nose so that the doctor can examine the inside of the pharynx or larynx.
In instances where cancer is suspected to exist in the neck area, a patient may swallow a small amount of barium while an x-ray is performed. The barium will help doctors see if any abnormalities exist in the swallowing passage.
In cases where a growth is suspected to be near the jawbone or bony area of the roof of the mouth, some doctors may choose to perform this procedure. A panoramic radiograph provides images from several angles of these two areas.
In instances where cancerous growths are suspected in the tonsils, tongue, neck, larynx or elsewhere, an MRI is performed. This style of imaging is effective at providing detailed images of soft tissue.
Once a growth or abnormal tissue is identified, doctors will perform a biopsy to determine if it is cancerous. The doctor will obtain a sample of the tissue and send it to a pathologist to be tested. If the results determine that cancer is present, treatment will need to be administered.
Cancers of the head and neck are categorized by the area where the cancer starts.
|Cancer Regions||Specific Areas Affected||Symptoms & Indications|
|Oral Cavity||Cheek lining, lips, tongue, gums, the mouth floor, and the roof of the mouth.||Swelling, unusual bleeding, pain, and/or white or red patches in the tissues of the mouth.|
|Pharynx (the tube that connects the nose and esophagus.)||The area of the pharynx behind the nose, the tonsils, base of the tongue, and the part of the pharynx that connects to the esophagus.||Difficulty swallowing. Decreased hearing ability, pain with swallowing, persistent sore throat, ear pain, blood in sputum. .|
|Larynx (the voice box)||Vocal cords, epiglottis (the tissue that covers the larynx and surrounding tissue.)||Voice change, hoarseness, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, blood in sputum.|
|Paranasal Sinus & Nasal Cavity||The sinuses that surround the nose and the hollow area inside the face and skull.||Frequent sinus infections that do not clear, headaches, nosebleeds, and nasal obstruction.|
|Salivary Glands||The glands located in the cheeks, mouth, and under the jaw.||Swelling around the cheeks, jaw or chin, pain in the face, chin, or neck, facial weakness.|
The type of treatment that is recommended will depend on multiple factors:
The most common treatment options include:
To schedule an appointment or obtain a second opinion on your diagnosis, please call the CareMount Medical Cancer Center Referral Line at 1-844-484-3292.