Head & Neck Cancer: Everything you need to know
There are over 100 known cancers that affect people all across the world. While the numbers of such cases are on the rise, medical advancement has lowered the mortality rates considerably. In India 30% of all the cancers develop in the head and neck region. Head and neck cancers are cancers that specifically develop in the larynx (voice box), throat, lips mouth, nose, sinuses, thyroid and salivary glands.
Like other types of cancer, there are multiple risk factors associated with Head & Neck Cancers. Some of these include:
- Tobacco consumption
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
While prevention is always better than cure, the cure, if started early can help the patient make a full recovery. Here are some common symptoms to look out for:
- A sore in the mouth, not healing for more than 3 weeks
- Change of voice
- Difficulty in chewing, and swallowing
- A lump in the neck
- Bleeding, pain or numbness in the nose or mouth
- Difficulty in opening mouth
- Facial, neck or ear pain
Diagnosis & Treatment
After clinical examination of the head and neck region, scans (CT, MRI, or ultrasound), PET – CT scan are done to determine whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck or other areas of the body. Endoscopy is also done to check the extent of tumor and biopsy is performed to confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment for Head and Neck cancers can include a combination of procedures depending upon the type, site and size of the tumor.The prime treatment for these cancers is surgical – it any also be combined with other treatment options like Chemotherapy. Some cases may also require Radiotherapy.