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Head and Neck Cancer

Woman Experiencing Neck Pain

What is Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancers affect the mouth, nose, throat and surrounding areas. Each year, more than 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with head and neck cancers, which account for 3 to 5 percent of all cancers nationwide.

Types of Head and Neck Cancers

Cancers of the head and neck are usually categorized by the areas in which they originate. Areas that may be affected include:

Most head and neck cancers begin in the mucosal lining of the mouth, nose and throat. The cells in the linings are vulnerable to carcinogens. Like other types of cancers, head and neck cancers can spread to other areas of the body, leading to serious complications. Prompt, thorough treatment is essential to achieve the best outcomes.

Causes of Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancers, especially cancers of the oral cavity and larynx, are frequently caused by tobacco and alcohol use. Other risk factors may include:

Those at increased risk for developing head and neck cancers should be screened regularly. Early detection can significantly improve the effectiveness of treatment and overall outcomes.

Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancers

Head-and-neck-cancer symptoms often manifest themselves early, and vary depending on the type of cancer. Symptoms may include:

Although these symptoms can be caused by a wide range of non-cancerous conditions, medical attention should be sought as soon as they appear.

Diagnosis of Head and Neck Cancers

Patients experiencing head and neck cancer symptoms will have a thorough and complete history taken as well as a physical examination. Various diagnostic tests, including endoscopy, biopsy, and imaging tests, may be performed. Biopsies can diagnose the cancer and determine the specific kind of cancer present. If you have a biopsy performed it is important to not worry too much until you have the final results as there are many other conditions that can mimic head and neck cancer.

If cancer is diagnosed, it is important to determine the stage (severity) of the disease, which includes the size and location of the tumor and whether or not it has spread to other areas of the body. To determine a cancer’s stage, imaging tests are usually performed. Until the stage has been determined, an effective treatment plan cannot be devised.

Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer in St. Petersburg

Treatment for head and neck cancer depends on the type and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. Treatment often includes surgery to remove the cancer, and possibly postoperative chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Some cancers can be treated by radiation without surgery.

Surgery involves the removal of the cancerous tissue and some surrounding healthy tissue to ensure complete removal. Lymph nodes may also need to be removed to ensure the cancer has not, and will not, spread.

It is important to discuss treatment options with a doctor. Making healthy lifestyle changes will help prevent head and neck cancer from occurring.

If you are concerned about head and neck cancer, call us for an appointment today!

Our Location

Third Coast ENT

1615 Pasadena Avenue South
Suite 220
St. Petersburg, FL 33707