Surgery is often the first line treatment option for head and neck cancers. Some patients may be treated with surgery alone, for other patients, combining head and neck cancer surgery, treatment with radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be appropriate. The way a particular head and neck cancer behaves depends on the site in which it arises. For example, cancers that begin in the vocal cords behave very differently than those that arise in the back of the tongue, which is only an inch or less from the vocal cords. Usually, an oncologist manages a person's care and treatment once he or she is diagnosed with cancer. The duration of this treatment would depend on how the patient responds to treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. Changes in voice, headaches, sore throat or a cough may be symptoms of throat cancers. Pain or ringing in the ears may also accompany certain head and neck cancers. Whether a patient is a candidate for surgery depends on factors such as the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as general health factors such as age and physical fitness. For many patients, surgery will be combined with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or hormone therapy. The cost of cancer treatment can be prohibitive depending on the nature of the tumor and the treatment required. While chemotherapy can be successful in treating some patients it may not suit some patients.
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