HEAD-AND-NECK-CANCER_INNER-PAGE_dreamsti

WHAT IS CANCER?

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in a part of the body. A cancer that starts in the head and neck area (for example the tongue, ear, nose, or throat) are referred to as Head & Neck cancer.

The most common sub sites for head & neck cancers include cancers of the:

  • Mouth, tongue and tonsils

  • Voice box (Larynx)

  • Upper oesophagus

  • Thyroid gland

WHAT CAUSES CANCER?​

It's not clear what causes the cells to mutate, however certain risk factors have been identified to increase the risks of or are associated with developing head and neck cancer such as:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Poor nutrition

  • Viral infections such as high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

 

SYMPTOMS OF HEAD & NECK CANCER

 

The symptoms of Head & Neck Cancers are often non-specific such as:

  • Voice change or hoarseness

  • Lump in the neck

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Lump in the throat or persistent sore throat

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Hearing loss in one ear, unilateral tinnitus or a sense of fullness in the ear

  • Persistent unilateral ear pain

  • Unilateral nasal obstruction

  • Numbness in the lower part of the face

DIAGNOSIS OF HEAD & NECK CANCER

The diagnosis of head and neck cancer involves various tests which include

  • Nasoendoscopy- An endoscope is a thin tube with a light & camera attachment, this is put down the nose to look into the throat. This is part of the ENT examination performed in clinic with or without topical anaesthesia

  • Biopsy- where samples of tissue are taken from the neck or throat to be tested for cancer cells. Throat biopsies are done under general anaesthetic in theatre.

  • Imaging tests- such as those listed below will show if cancer is present and if it has spread to other regions of the body (X-ray, computerized tomography scan (CT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) or a positron emission tomography scan (PET-CT scan).

TREATMENT OF HEAD & NECK CANCER

Treatment options depend on several factors, such as the extent and stage of the cancer, your overall health and personal preferences, and the responsiveness of the tumour to current therapies such as surgery or radiotherapy.

Some of the available treatment options may include

  • Radiation +/- chemotherapy

  • Surgery

  • Targeted drug therapy

Mr Ofo is a highly trained Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon, and also a core member and lead clinician of the combined St George’s and Royal Marsden Hospitals Head & Neck and Thyroid Cancer Multidisciplinary Team. Following diagnosis of head and neck cancer Mr Ofo will discuss the benefits and risks of all available therapeutic options to determine the best treatment for you.