MemorialCare Cancer Institute at:
Head & Neck CancerMost head and neck cancers form in the moist tissues (mucosal surface) lining the mouth, nose and throat. In the United States, approximately three to five percent of cancers are head and neck cancers. These cancers are more common in men and in people over age 50.
SymptomsHead and neck cancer symptoms may include: If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a MemorialCare Physician partner.
Causes & PreventionAbout eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers, particularly in the mouth and throat area, are attributed to tobacco use from cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Alcohol use is another risk factor, and those who use both tobacco and alcohol are at a greater risk. To help prevent head and neck cancer, do not smoke or drink alcohol.
Risk FactorsYou are at a greater risk for head and neck cancer if you:
DiagnosisAfter a physical exam of the head and neck area, a physician may perform an endoscopy, an examination using a tiny, light tube (endoscope or laryngoscope) to view areas of the mouth, throat and nose. Laboratory tests of blood and urine and digital imaging such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI or PET/CT Scans may also be used for diagnosis. A biopsy may be taken so that a pathologist can examine the head and neck tissue under a microscope to determine if cancer cells are present.
StagingIf cancer is diagnosed and before treatment begins, additional tests are performed to determine the stage of the cancer and to see if it has spread to other parts of the body.
TreatmentsMemorialCare’s experienced team of oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists and surgeons conduct roundtable discussions (tumor boards) of newly diagnosed patients to make recommendations for the best course of treatment.