Head and Neck Cancer
Finding out you have a tumor in your head or neck can be shocking, daunting, or even terrifying. Especially if you’ve never been down this road before.
We have. And we have the experts who can help you get back on the road to health.
When you make an appointment, our first step will be to see if the tumor is cancerous or benign (not cancerous). Your doctor may start with a physical examination, testing, scans and a needle biopsy to analyze the tumor. If it’s cancerous, your head and neck surgeon can tell you whether it’s growing or not.
We’ll answer all your questions and work closely with you to develop the treatment plan that’s right for you. You can expect a team-like approach to your care. All your doctors will work together to make sure you’re getting the best possible care.
If you’ve been diagnosed with head or neck cancer, but you’re not sure what to do next, come see us for help. We’d like to give you a second opinion about your diagnosis.
Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer
Keep an eye out for these symptoms and see a doctor if they develop:
- A sore in your mouth that keeps bleeding
- A lump in your neck
- Frequent nose bleeds
- Constant congestion, but no medicine helps
- Pain chewing or swallowing
- Raspy voice
- Loose teeth / dentures that no longer fit
- Constant pain in your neck, ears or throat
Exploring Treatments for Head and Neck Cancer
Your treatment will depend on the location of the tumor, stage of cancer, as well as the size and type of tumor.
- Laryngeal tumors are found in the voice box. Symptoms include a sore throat that doesn’t go away, ear pain or trouble swallowing. To reduce your risk of developing this kind of cancer, stop smoking and cut back on drinking alcohol.
- Oral cavity tumors occur in the mouth, but most commonly in the tongue. The best way to avoid this type of cancer is to drink less alcohol and to stop smoking.
- Oropharyngeal tumors appear in the tonsils or throat. Symptoms include constant coughing or hoarseness. Oropharyngeal tumors are most commonly caused by the human papillomavirus.
- Salivary gland tumors can develop in any of the clusters of salivary glands found throughout your head, neck and mouth. (Saliva helps prevent infections in your mouth and throat.) Symptoms might include a painless lump on your face, numbness in your face or swelling in your face or neck. Salivary gland tumors are more common in people over 55.
- Sinus tumors occur in the nose or sinuses. The good news is they are rarely cancerous. Middle-aged men are more likely to get sinus cancer than women.
- Skin cancers of the head and neck, including melanoma appear as new or changing lesions on the skin’s surface. DNA damage to skin cells triggers genetic defects, which cause skin cells to multiply quickly and form cancerous tumors. There are a variety of types of skin cancers, but the most dangerous one is melanoma. Skin cancers can be caused by too much sun or tanning beds.
- Skull base tumors occur in the area of your head behind your eyes and nose and down to the back of your head. They are found near the openings in the skull base through which your spinal cord, nerves and blood vessels to travel from your brain, head and neck to your lower body.
- Temporal brain tumors are found in the inner ear (there are three parts of your ear: outer, middle and inner). The inner ear’s job is to help you keep your balance. Symptoms may include headaches, feel dizzy or hearing loss.
- Thyroid and parathyroid tumors occur in your neck. Your thyroid gland controls how quickly your body uses energy and helps regulate your hormones. Cancerous thyroid tumors are rare and are found more often in women. You have four small parathyroid glands near the thyroid gland. Together, they create a hormone that regulates the levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood.
Because each tumor is different, we offer a variety of treatment tools:
- Conformal radiotherapy uses beams of radiation to kill or shrink tumors. The beams are targeted to the exact dimensions of the tumor, so there is less danger of damage to other nearby structures.
- CyberKnife is a non-invasive procedure that is not actually a knife at all. During a session lasting between 30 and 90 minutes (depending on the size of the tumor), the CyberKnife robot slowly moves around you and delivers radiation to your tumor. It can be used to treat a variety of tumors throughout the body.
- Microvascular reconstruction helps to reconstructyour jaw, tongue or throat after a cancerous tumor is removed. Your doctor will remove tissue from another part of your body (arms, legs or abdomen) and move it to the area that needs to be reconstructed.
- Minimally invasive laser surgery uses a laser to remove tumors without making a large incision. The doctor operates by inserting a light and video camera along with other specially designed instruments through a tube.
- Trans-oral robotic surgery may be used by your doctor to remove a tumor in early or moderate stages of throat cancer. During this procedure, your head and neck surgeon guides a robot using 3-D imaging and instruments to remove the tumor.
Contact us to get a second opinion and let us answer any questions you might have.