About Head and Neck Cancer
Head and Neck Cancer is a general term that covers different types of cancers in that region. The various types of head & neck cancers are:
- Nasal and Paranasal Sinus: These cancers starts either in the lining of the space behind the nose (nasal cavity) or the nearby air cavities (paranasal sinus) and sometimes spread to lymph nodes.
Symptoms: Nose problems like blockage, nose bleeds and mucus draining, Eye problems with double vision, bulging and watery eyes.
- Mouth and Oropharyngeal Cancer: Mouth cancer can start in the lips, gums or soft sides of the mouth. The oropharynx is the part of the throat (pharynx) just behind the mouth; cancer that starts here is called as Oropharyngeal Cancer.
Symptoms: Ulcers that don’t heal, pain in your mouth, red or white patch in the mouth, lump in neck and difficulty to swallow.
- Laryngeal Cancer: This type of cancer is rare and starts in the larynx or the voice box.
Symptoms: Have a hoarse voice for more than 3 weeks is the one of the most common symptoms of laryngeal cancer. Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, weight loss, a cough that doesn’t go away and shortness of breath.
- Oesophageal Cancer: Oesophagus or the food pipe is the tube that carries food from your mouth to your stomach. Oesophageal cancer is when abnormal cells in the oesophagus grow in an uncontrolled way. Most people are over the age of 60 when they are diagnosed.
Symptoms: The most common symptoms include difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), persistent indigestion or heartburn, weight loss, pain in your throat or behind your breastbone, a cough that won’t go away.
- Salivary Gland Cancer: It can start in any of the glands that make saliva.
Symptoms: These include numbness in a part of your face, drooping on one side of your face (facial palsy), pain the area of the lump or swelling & problems swallowing.
- Tonsil Cancer: cancer of the tonsil develops in the part of the throat just behind your mouth called a orophayrnx.
Symptoms: A sore throat, ear pain, painless lump in your neck and swallowing difficulty.
- Nasopharyngeal Cancer: This is a cancer that begins in the poor of your throat called as nasopharynx.
Symptoms: A lump or growth anywhere in the neck area that does not go away for 3 weeks (this might be the only sign you have), hearing loss – usually on one side only, ringing in your ears (tinnitus), fluid collecting in your ears, blocked or stuffy nose – particularly if its only blocked on one side, blood stained discharge from your nose and headaches.
- Throat Cancer: Throat Cancer is not a precise medical term so doctors generally don’t use it. There are different structures and the areas within the throat and they have different names. Throat cancers could be in one or two main areas that doctors call the pharynx or head & neck.
Symptoms: Ear pain or sore throat, lump in the neck, difficulty to swallow, weight loss, change in your voice.
Once head and neck cancer has been diagnosed, doctors will determine the location, type and stage of cancer and whether or not it is metastatic; based on which doctors would be able to devise a treatment plan. Treatments include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and proton beam therapy.
To know more about Head and Neck cancer you can refer to our Cancer Guide
No major professional organisations currently recommend any routine screening of the general public for head and neck cancers.
Dr Sultan Pradhan
Consultant Head & Neck Surgical Oncologist
Dr Jonathan Bernstein
Consultant in Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery
COMPARE PRICING FOR - Head and Neck Cancer
Treatments for head and neck cancers may vary according to the type, location and stage of cancer.
Surgery: It is usually suggested to remove and try to cure cancer, or to receive its symptoms.
Chemotherapy: This is given by administrating drugs intravenously (IV), intra-arterially (IA) or via intra – peritoneal (IP) injections to destroy cancer cells. This treatment can last up to many weeks.
Radiotherapy: This is performed by directing radiation beams at the targeted area, and like chemotherapy this treatment usually requires multiple sessions which are performed over a series of weeks.
Targeted Therapy: This is performed by administrating a number of drugs to the patient which will target certain components of the cancer cells.
Proton Beam Therapy: This is a type of radiation therapy. It uses protons rather than x-rays to treat cancer. Proton beam therapy has had promising results with reduced side effects compared to radiation.
Treatments are often used in combination with each other, particularly is the cancer is advanced and surgery is being performed. Chemotherapy may often be used before surgery to shrink the tumour or after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that could not be removed during surgery.
You may experience vomiting, nausea, hair loss, fatigue & body pain during treatment. Please do not hesitate to discuss this further with your doctor, for more information on the management of any symptoms.
- Most patients require a post – surgical recovery period of up to 4- 6 weeks. Speak to your surgeon to understand the amount of recovery you would need following your treatment.
- Appropriate rest is also important during this period.
- If there is pain and discomfort then please speak to your doctor for its management.
length of stay
Hospital Stay: 3-7 days for surgery
Total Stay: Depending upon treatment the length of stay can wary from 2 weeks to a few months