The head and neck cancer is a common term given or used to address the growth of malignant tumors in any of the specified regions like the oral cavity (mouth), the throat or the pharynx, the small hollow spaces around the nose lined with cells that secrete mucus which are called the paranasal sinuses.
The airway just behind the nose which is called the nasal pharynx, larynx or the voice box and salivary glands which include the parotid, sublingual glands that secrete saliva and the submanidular are the other regions.
The probable causes of head and neck cancer are not exactly known but certain risk factors are found that help in developing the disease. The risk factors include smoking be it tobacco or marijuana both are said to hype the risk of developing the disease.
Excess consumption of alcohol is also one of the risk factor. A condition in which white patches are formed in the mouth is called leukoplakia which may also be one of the possible risk factor.
Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of Head and neck cancer are very common among people who are smokers and consume excess alcohol. The chances of development of head and neck cancer are very low in people who do not smoke or consume alcohol. Some of the symptoms of head and neck cancer include:
- Bleeding in the mouth or throat
- Persistent pain in the throat thus making it difficult for swallowing
- A change in voice or persistent hoarseness
- Pain in the ear
The first and foremost warning sign of head and neck cancer may be sores or lesions in the mouth as majority of these cancers originate in the oral cavity. Other possible symptoms of head and neck cancer include:
- Thickening in oral soft tissues or formation of lump
- Feeling that something is stuck in the throat or a specific soreness or numbness
- Swallowing and chewing becomes difficult
- Swelling of the jaw leading the dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
- Moving the jaw or tongue becomes painful and difficult
Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
The head and neck cancer treatment is a quite a complex task as the sites affected are different and many with different staging systems. Nowadays many alternative treatment methods as well as standard methods are serving better to treat the disease which include the surgery, chemotherapy and the radiation therapy as well. These methods are implanted either single or in combination depending on the stage of the cancer.
Many drugs have come in the market to treat the head and neck cancer. The chemotherapy treatment has its own side effects but these are temporary. The side effects of radiation therapy used for treating the head and neck cancer may include difficulty swallowing, mouth sores, and skin reactions (e.g., redness, itching, burning) which fade off in due course of time.