Head & Neck Cancer Month

In recognition of Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month this April, it's important to understand the various types of cancer falling under this category. Head and neck cancers refer to malignant tumors that develop in the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth. Typically affecting those aged 50 and older, symptoms of these cancers include difficulty swallowing, a lump, a persistent sore throat, or a hoarse voice.

The five major types of head and neck cancer are classified based on where they develop in the body. 

  • Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer, which account for 95% of cancers in these organs, arise in the flat, squamous cells lining these structures.
  •  Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer usually originate in the maxillary sinus and the space behind the nose where air passes en route to the throat. Nasopharyngeal cancer begins in the upper part of the throat behind the nose and near the base of the skull. 
  • Oral and oropharyngeal cancer, which are among the most common types of head and neck cancers, are found in the structures responsible for chewing, swallowing, breathing, and talking. Salivary gland cancer can develop from any of the cells that make up the salivary glands.

In addition to the major types of head and neck cancer, there are other less common types such as thyroid cancer, which originates in the thyroid gland located in the neck, and skull base tumors, which develop in the bones at the base of the skull. Although these cancers are less common, they can still cause significant health issues if not diagnosed and treated promptly.

Several factors can increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer, including tobacco and alcohol use, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, and a weakened immune system. Regular dental check-ups and screenings are recommended, especially for individuals at higher risk, to detect any abnormalities early on.

Treatment for head and neck cancer depends on various factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the individual's overall health. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these approaches. Supportive care is also an essential part of the treatment plan to manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and address any physical, emotional, or social challenges that may arise.

Awareness and education about head and neck cancer are critical to improving outcomes and reducing the impact of these cancers on individuals, families, and communities. Regular health screenings, risk reduction strategies, and prompt medical attention for any concerning symptoms can help prevent and detect head and neck cancer early on, increasing the chances of successful treatment and recovery.

To learn more or make an appointment, call us at (732) 390-7750. 

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