Head and neck cancers include different types of cancers that originate from the cells lining the throat, mouth, or the larynx. These cells are referred to as squamous cells. Sometimes, these cancers develop in the salivary glands or the sinuses.
Following are the different types of head and neck cancers:
Sometimes, head and neck cancers involve the lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck. Eye, brain, thyroid, and esophageal cancers aren’t considered as head and neck cancers, despite their locations. Their treatment is also different from that given for head and neck cancers.
Males are upto three times more likely to get diagnosed with head and neck cancers than females. Age has a role to play as well. Most patients who get diagnosed are above the age of 50 years. The presence of certain risk factors increase your susceptibility to developing head and neck cancers. These include alcohol and tobacco use and Human Papillomavirus infection.
Head and neck cancers are not diagnosed easily. This is because the symptoms are not that prominent and they commonly mimic less serious conditions like a sore throat or a cold. The most common symptom of head and neck cancer is a sore throat that doesn’t seem to get better with treatment.
Following are some common symptoms of head and neck cancers:
If you notice any of these symptoms, you must talk to a healthcare provider immediately. Even though these may be symptoms of something less serious, you still need a thorough examination to be sure.
Head and neck cancers are more common in men above the age of 50 years. Apart from age and sex, other common risk factors for these cancers are excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and HPV infections. Depending on the type of cancer, the risk factors for head and neck cancers may vary.
The key to a successful cancer treatment is early detection. Most head and neck cancers are easily detected by examination. Apart from performing a complete physical examination, the healthcare provider will order certain investigations to establish the diagnosis of head and neck cancer.
These tests and examinations might include:
The staging of cancers helps doctors determine how advanced the cancer is and this information helps guide the treatment plan. For the staging of head and neck cancers, the TNM (tumour, node, metastasis) system is used.
Factors like the size and location of the tumour, its extent of spread to the surrounding lymph nodes and distant organs are considered for staging. Based on this information, a number ranging from I to IV is assigned to each cancer. Higher the number, the more advanced the disease is. Depending on the location and stage of the cancer, the staging is different. The treatment plan is guided by the stage of the cancer, its location, and age and overall health of the patient.
After establishing the diagnosis, appropriate treatment for Head & Neck Cancer is selected for specific cancer based on its site, stage, and type. Other factors like comorbid conditions, social and economic factors, and patients' personal preferences are also considered. If you are looking for the best Head & Neck treatment Hospital in Indore, your search is over. Our treatment plan includes a combination of treatment modalities— surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.
Surgical resection and radiation therapy are the mainstays of treatment for most head and neck cancers and remain the standard of care in most cases. If the tumour is small, primary, and there is no regional metastasis, wide surgical excision or curative radiation therapy is used. For more extensive tumours or tumours with regional metastasis, complete surgical excision combined with pre-or post- operative radiation therapy is used.
The main treatment modalities used for head and neck cancers are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Your doctor may also recommend novel treatment options such as immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
Apart from the above mentioned treatment options, your doctor may suggest palliative care. Such treatment is delivered by a team of palliative care professionals including doctors, social workers, nurses, and others who are experts at helping people deal with terminal chronic illnesses. Palliative care helps enhance the quality of life for the patient, no matter the stage of the cancer.
Following are some steps you can take to prevent head and neck cancers:
If you already had the cancer, cutting down on alcohol and quitting smoking can decrease your risk of facing relapse. Visiting a doctor at the first sign of symptoms may also prevent the progression of the cancer.
Head and neck cancers are curable if diagnosed early. If diagnosed late at a time when the disease has reached an advanced stage, the outcome is generally poor. The stage of cancer when it is diagnosed is a critical factor in the prognosis of head and neck cancers. The average 5-year survival following diagnosis in the developed world is 42–64%.
Early-stage head and neck cancers are usually treatable with surgery and radiation therapy. If you are experiencing any symptoms of head and neck cancer, you must visit a healthcare provider and seek immediate medical care and treatment. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to deal with the cancer to ensure optimum outcome.