Cancers that appear in head, digestive system and breathing related parts are called Head and Neck cancers. These cancers appear in parts like lips, mouth, gums, tongue, nasal cavity, pharynx, etc. About 90% of these cancers belong to squalors cell carcinoma kind, which means these cancers are mostly seen in inner lips, gums, and tongue always in damp state.
The cancers that affect brain, esophagus, thyroid gland, head muscles, skin cancers are not considered as head and neck cancers. Just like lung cancers, the main causes for these cancers are alcohol, tobacco and its products besides Human Papiloma Virus (HPV). The risk of this cancer is more if alcohol, tobacco and tobacco products are consumed together. There are 16 to 18 kinds of HPV virus responsible for cancers of fore-tongue, some kinds of tonsils, cancers relating to head and brain.
Depending upon the area of the growth of cancer tumor, pale mouth, red color scars, sore throat due to throat pain, difficulty in swallowing, swollen jaws, labored breathing and difficulty in talking, headache, impaired hearing, and earache and many kinds of symptoms prevail. Besides HPV virus, tobacco products, alcohol, Epstein bar virus, stale food materials, people working in asbestos, metal, textile industries and radiation problems are more prone to this cancer.
Cancer affected part, stage, and grading will be decided with imaging procedures like biopsy, MRI, CT, PET, if symptoms are doubtful. Treatment methods depend upon the factors like cancer-affected part, stage, patient’s age and his health. Surgery, chemo-targeted therapy or some kinds of combination therapies will be decided as per the need.Many changes take place after those treatments to the delicate parts like head, neck.
Head and Neck cancers mainly affect the following parts:
- Pharyngeal: Located behind nose with 5 inches length and a tube linking esophagus
- Laryngeal: Vocal box helping to speak, vocal chords, epiglottis that obstructs food from entering lungs.
- Para nasal sinuses and nasal cavity: This is a light sinus located in the middle part of head, and both sides of nose.
- Salivary glands: These salivary glands are located in the bottom of mouth, both sides of jaw bones.
The death rate is more due to belated noticing or mitosis. Nearly lakhs of people are falling victims to head and neck cancer.
This cancer can be permanently solved with surgery itself if detected in initial stage i.e. stage I and II. Reconstructive surgery is necessary many times after surgery. Chemo, radiation is to be given top priority for stage III and IV. Treatment methods are 3 DCRT, VMAT, IMRT, IGRT, Brach therapy.
After these treatments, keeping away from earlier vices, observing cleanliness of mouth, physiotherapy, speech therapy, Jaw stretching like exercises is very essential. When leucoplakia or erithroplakia patches are noticed devoid of pain in the mouth, tests are necessary and advisable. It is also equally important to get frequent checkups regularly.
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