This year, about 62,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and thyroid.
The use of tobacco and alcohol greatly increases your chances of developing head and neck cancer. Risk factors include:
If you quit smoking, the health benefits begin immediately.
Although there are sometimes no symptoms of head and neck cancer, common complaints include:
To look for cancer, your doctor will examine all the areas of your head and neck.
Head and neck cancers arise from the cells that make up the face, mouth and throat. Because cancers in different locations behave differently, treatment depends on the cancer type and extent. Some common locations include:
Cancers arising in the brain or eyes are considered different from head and neck cancers. However, your doctor will check the areas to make sure the cancer has not spread.
Treatment for head and neck cancer depends on several factors, including the type of cancer, the size and stage, its location, and your overall health.
External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily outpatient treatments to accurately deliver radiation to the cancer.
Also called brachytherapy, internal radiation therapy involves surgically implanting radioactive material into a tumor or surrounding tissue. For head and neck cancers, brachytherapy is often used in conjunction with external beam radiation therapy, but may be used alone.
Side effects of radiation therapy are limited to the area that is receiving treatment.
It is important to take care of your mouth, teeth and gums during radiation.