Head & Neck Cancer FAQs

Cancer Clinics in Scottsdale, Glendale, & Payson, AZ

 

Fighting cancer is one of the hardest things that anyone has to do – but it’s never something you have to do alone. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we’re proud to help patients throughout greater Phoenix fight cancer through cutting-edge radiation therapy treatments, and we strive to make the cancer treatment process as convenient as possible for our patients. If you’re fighting head and neck cancer, we’re here to serve as a resource to you. Learning the answers to the most common questions about your condition is a great place to start.

 

Common Questions About Head & Neck Cancer

 

What is head & neck cancer?

Head & neck cancer is different from most cancers in that it doesn’t refer to a single condition. Instead, it’s a blanket term for cancers that develop in the tissues of the head, neck, and throat (excluding the brain). There are several subtypes of head and neck cancer, defined by where the start in the body:

  • Oral & Oropharyngeal Cancer​: Cancer of the mouth or the oropharynx, the section of the throat behind the mouth.
  • Salivary Gland Cancer​: Cancer of the salivary glands, which produce saliva that helps break down foods before digestion.
  • Nasopharyngeal Cancer​: Cancer of nasopharynx, an air passage between the throat and the nose.
  • Nasal Cavity & Paranasal Sinus Cancer​: Cancer of the nose and the paranasal sinuses, which are cavities located throughout the face.
  • Laryngeal & Hypopharyngeal Cancer​: Cancer of the larynx (voice box) or hypopharynx (gullet).

What are the signs and symptoms of head & neck cancer?

Symptoms of head & neck cancer vary depending on the specifics of the condition, and often, symptoms may not present until an advanced stage of the cancer. However, when symptoms occur, they can include the following:

  • A persistent sore throat that doesn’t heal
  • Hoarseness or a change in the voice
  • Difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing
  • An open sore in the mouth, nose, or throat that won’t heal
  • A lump in the mouth, nose, or throat
  • Coughing up blood
  • Headaches
  • General fatigue
  • Sinus infections that recur or won’t go away
  • Nosebleeds that occur frequently or won’t stop
  • Vomiting

What causes head & neck cancer?

As with most cancers, it’s difficult to label the exact causes of head & neck cancer. However, scientists have found a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood of someone developing head and neck cancer at some point in their lifetime. The risk factors for head & neck cancer include:

  • Tobacco​: One of the most significant risk factors for head and neck cancer is smoking or using smokeless tobacco.
  • Alcohol​: Drinking 2 or more drinks per day increases the chances of head and neck cancer.
  • Gender​: Head and neck cancer is two to three times as common in men as in women, although this could be due to the higher prevalence of smoking and alcohol use in men.
  • Infections​: Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein Barr virus (EBV) strongly raise the likelihood of head & neck cancer.
  • Oral Hygiene​: Lack of a strong oral hygiene regimen can increase the risk of head and neck cancer.

How is head and neck cancer treated?

Treatment options vary greatly from patient to patient, and you’ll have to work with your doctor to choose a treatment that makes sense for your specific case. Surgery is a common treatment for head and neck cancer, and radiation therapy often presents an attractive option because it’s noninvasive and won’t leave scars. For advanced cases of head and neck cancer, your doctor may recommend a whole-body treatment like chemotherapy or targeted therapy.

 

Schedule a Consultation with Your Glendale Cancer Center

 

While rare, head & neck cancer is a serious condition – and the treatment team at Palo Verde Cancer Specialists can help you beat it. Contact us today to learn more about the treatments we offer for head and neck cancer and to schedule your consultation. We’ll work with you to help you thrive during treatment, beat your cancer, and start the road to recovery

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