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Head & Neck Cancer - Know Everything about it!

Dr. U. Sanjay 87% (21 ratings)
MBBS, MS - ENT
ENT Specialist, Chennai  •  25 years experience
Head & Neck Cancer - Know Everything about it!

Head and neck cancers usually start in the squamous cells and are also referred to as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. It occurs in the nose, throat, mouth and salivary glands. Head and Neck cancers are further classified into various categories on the basis of the area of the neck and head where they occur. Although head and neck cancers are different, they both occur inside the mouth, sinuses, nose, salivary glands and throat, which are considered as a group.

Salivary gland cancers are generally very infrequent. An assortment of cancer causing cells is present in salivary glands, so various types of salivary gland cancers have been found to occur.

Causes

If you are habituated to consuming tobacco and alcohol, then you are at the highest risk of suffering from head and neck cancer; however, it can also be caused in people who suffer from infections caused by human Papilloma virus. Other factors may include:

  1. Oral health- Untreated gum diseases and oral cavity can be the reasons behind the development of the disease.
  2. Sex- Women are less prone to head and neck cancers than men.
  3. Lack of Nutrition- If your body is lacking in certain nutrients; you are more likely to catch the disease.
  4. Age- People above 40 years of age are more susceptible to head and neck cancer.

Symptoms-

  1. Difficulty in swallowing- Inflammation and pain in throat, leading to a problem in swallowing.
  2. Hoarse Voice- Hoarseness or change in the voice.

Apart from this, there are some symptoms which show up in a specific area of your head and neck, such as:

  1. Oral Cavity- A red or white patch on the tongue, the gums or the lining of the mouth.
  2. Pharynx- Trouble in breathing and swallowing followed by a frequent headache.

Treatment

  1. Surgery- Surgery is usually to remove the primary tumour in toto or as much as feasible. Also, clearence of the lymph nodes that are involved is done during surgery at the same time.
  2. Radiation Therapy- Radiation therapy is considered where functions like speech can be conserved.
  3. Chemotherapy- Radiotherapy in combination with chemotherapy can help, if you are suffering from a more advanced form of head and neck cancers. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an ENT specialist.
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