HEAD AND NECK CANCER
Consumption of tobacco caused Head and neck cancer or Mouth cancer. The cancer hospitals in India are able to treat head and neck cancers and mouth cancers. Most of the cancer hospitals have the infrastructure to handle this disease in India.
There are many cancer treatments available for the various disease conditions. Before going to the available cancer treatment let us see in detail about the head and neck cancer which will usually helps us to understand the seriousness of the problems. Head and neck cancer usually begin in the squamous cells which lines the mucosal surfaces inside the mouth, the nose and the throat. These are often called as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. The cancer can be classified further from the area it begins.
Oral cavity which includes lips, front 2/3 of tongue, gums, the lining inside the cheeks and lips, the floor of the mouth under the tongue, the hard palate and the small area of the gums behind the wisdom teeth.
Pharynx is a hollow tube which starts behind the nose and leads to esophagus. It has three parts the nasopharynx, oropharynx and hypo pharynx.
Larynx is also called as voice box and it is a short passageway which is formed by a cartilage below the pharynx in the neck.
Para nasal sinuses and nasal cavity are the small hollow spaces in the bones of the head which surrounds the nose. The nasal cavity is the hollow space inside the nose.
Salivary glands are in the floor of the mouth and near the jawbone and they produce saliva.
Causes of Head and Neck Cancer:
Almost 75% of head and neck cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol use. People who use both alcohol and tobacco are at the greater risk of developing these cancers. Infection with cancer causing types of HPV human papilloma virus especially HPV- 16 is a risk factor especially oropharyngeal cancers which involve the tonsils or the base of the tongue.
The following are the risk factors for the head and neck cancer like consuming paan, mate, preserved or salted food, oral health, occupational exposure, radiation exposure etc.
Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancers:
Like all other cancer these symptoms may include a lump or a sore which does not heal, prolonged sore throat, swallowing difficulty, hoarseness of voice. These symptoms may be present for certain other conditions also therefore a proper assessment should be done with the help of doctors. A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, a swelling of the jaw or any unusual bleeding or pain in the mouth may be present for the oral cavity . Difficulty in breathing or speaking, pain during swallowing, prolonged pain in the neck or throat, frequent headaches, pain or ringing ears or trouble hearing are the symptoms related to the pharynx . Pain during swallowing or ear pain is the symptoms related to larynx . Blocked sinus which does not get cleared, chronic sinus which is unresponsive with antibiotics, nasal bleeding, frequent headache, swelling or trouble with eyes, upper teeth pain or denture problems may be the symptoms related to paranasal sinus and nasal cavity . Swelling under the chin or around the jawbone, numbness or face muscle paralysis or prolonged pain in the face, chin or the neck are the symptoms related to the salivary glands.
A through history collection and the physical examination is done by the doctors and accordingly the patients are taken for the next level of examination. The Examinations and the diagnostic tests may vary depending on the patient’s symptoms. Usually the patient will undergo a needle biopsy of the lesion and the histopathological examinations are done and according to the result the doctor will proceed with the treatment options.
The treatment for a specific type of cancer depends on a number of variables which includes the tumor site, morbidity of various treatment options, patient performance and nutritional status, concomitant health problems, socio-logistic factors, previous history of tumors etc.
The management options include the surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Surgery is the method which is used in most types of head and neck cancer. Radiation therapy is also widely used with different forms like 3D conformal radiation therapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy and brachytherapy. Chemotherapy had shown a very good response with the locally advanced head and neck cancer.
The early stages of head and neck cancers have good cure rates but almost many patients present with advanced disease only. Then the cure rate decreases in locally advanced cases. Prognosis of the patient is entirely depending on the stage of the disease and the numbers of symptoms which are present for the patient.