Head and neck cancer is a combined term for carcinomas affecting the throat, mouth, and other parts of the head and neck, excluding brain and eye cancer. They usually initiate in the squamous cells lining the head and neck's mucosal surfaces.
However, depending on where the head-neck cancer has started, it gets its name. For example, the cancer that develops in the regions of the lips, gums, tongue, behind the wisdom tooth, and the lining of the lips and cheeks is called oral cancer. At the same time, cancer that develops in the voice box, or larynx, is termed laryngeal cancer.
Significantly, head and neck tumors are caused by persistent smoking, chewing tobacco, and alcohol consumption. The major symptoms of head and neck carcinoma include jaw swelling, a lump in the mouth, and bleeding through the nose or mouth. These symptoms usually depend on the location where the cancer is residing, such as the mouth, voice box, or nasal cavity.
One of the most common symptoms of the said carcinoma is continuous throat pain that does not go away and a change in voice.
Head and neck carcinomas are quite common, and they are ranked among the top ten cancers diagnosed in India. They are mostly diagnosed among people over the age of 50. Also, men are more affected by this cancer as compared to women.
Here are some of the common sites of head and neck carcinoma among patients:
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma can develop in the oral cavity, which includes the gums, lips, two-thirds of the tongue, the top of the mouth, the part of the mouth under the tongue, and the area between the wisdom teeth and gums. Cancer developing in the oral cavity is termed oral cancer.
Neck cancer, which develops in the throat, starts in the pharynx, which is a 5-inch tube that initiates behind the nose and goes up to the esophagus. The pharynx is divided into three parts: the nasopharynx, the oropharynx, and the hypopharynx.
The cancers of the head and neck developing in the oropharynx are called oropharyngeal cancers. The head-neck carcinomas developing in the hypopharynx are called hypopharyngeal cancers, and the cancers forming in the nasopharynx are called nasopharyngeal cancers.
The voice box, or larynx, is the passageway that is formed by the cartilage placed below the pharynx and possesses the vocal cords. The larynx also has an epiglottis, which is a piece of tissue covering the voice box in order to protect the food going inside the air passages. Neck cancer types developing in the voice box are called Laryngeal cancers.
Another common site for head-neck cancer is the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity. The nasal cavity can be described as the hollow space found inside the nose. The paranasal sinuses are the hollow spaces that surround the nose.
As the name suggests, salivary glands are responsible for producing saliva, and most of these glands are found at the base of the mouth and nearby the jawline. The carcinoma that develops in this part is called salivary gland cancer.
Here are the different types of head and neck cancer found among patients.
Different head and neck tumors are classified according to the location where they occur. As the name suggests, laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers start in the larynx and lower throat. This is one of the most common types of head and neck cancer.
This is one of the head cancer types where malignant cells develop in the paranasal sinus and nasal cavity tissues. The common symptoms of this cancer type are nosebleeds and sinus issues.
Nasopharyngeal cancer is one of the head cancer types where cancerous cells form in the pharynx's upper part, placed behind the nose.
Oral and oropharyngeal cancer is a disease that occurs when malignant cancerous cells present in the mouth and oropharynx start growing uncontrollably and start spreading. This is also one of most common types of head and neck cancer.
Most salivary gland cancers develop in the submandibular glands in the mouth. Though these cancers are normally low-grade and rare, they can cause immense discomfort for the patient.
Carcinoma of the head and neck comprises multiple cancers in the upper region of the body. The diagnosis needs proper head and neck cancer imaging, and the treatment depends on where the cancer has started. Also, the survival rate depends on the type of head-neck cancer, head and neck cancer stages, the treatment administered, and the patient’s overall health status.