Head and neck cancer is just that: cancer that begins and progresses in the head and neck region.
Our Approach to Head and Neck Cancer
Inspira’s multidisciplinary team offers advanced and compassionate care for head and neck cancer and includes a board-certified, fellowship-trained specialist. These cancers can begin in any of the following places:
- Mouth (oral cavity)
- Nose (nasal cavity)
- Paranasal sinuses, which are the spaces around the nose that are lined with cells that produce mucus
- Salivary glands
- Throat (pharynx)
- Voice box (larynx)
Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer
Because there are so many different varieties of head and neck cancers, the symptoms are equally variable. In general, any open sores or lumps in the mouth or gums, headaches, difficulty breathing, speaking, or swallowing, and hoarseness of the voice can all signify head or neck cancer.
Other symptoms include:
- Lump in the neck
- Lump or sore inside the nose that will not heal
- Sore throat that does not go away
- Chronic sinus infections
- Coughing up blood
- Frequent nosebleeds or ones that don’t stop
- Weakness in the muscles of the face
- Numbness in the face
- Pain in the ear, face, chin, neck, upper back, jaw or upper teeth
- Loose teeth or dentures
- Unexplained weight loss
It is important to seek medical advice from your physician regarding these symptoms, as they can also be caused by less serious conditions.
Screening for Head and Neck Cancer
Dentists, in addition to doctors, can help to screen for oral cancers. If your primary care doctor or head and neck specialist suspects you may have head or neck cancer, they will administer a number of tests including but not limited to a chest X-ray, CT, PET CT, MRI, ultrasound and/or bone scan. These tests will help determine whether or not a tumor is present, and whether the cancer has spread throughout the body.
Head and Neck Cancer Treatment at Inspira
Treatment for head and neck cancer will vary depending on the stage, type and your overall health. In some cases, your doctor may decide to tackle treatment with medication. Chemotherapy, immunotherapy and hormone therapy are all common medication-based treatments. These treatments are all managed by medical oncologists.
Surgery is often used to treat cancerous lumps and tissue and can be very effective in removing your cancer. Whenever possible, your Inspira physician will operate using minimally-invasive surgery techniques to reduce any pain or discomfort.
Radiation treatment can be used to reduce or eliminate cancerous lumps or tissue instead of other treatments and is very commonly used after other treatments.
Genetic and genomic testing can aid your care team in recommending your treatment plan. Genetic testing determines if an inherited gene mutation contributed to your cancer diagnosis. Genomic looks for gene alterations, or harmful changes, anywhere in the genetic code.