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Head and Neck Cancer – Types, Causes and Diagnosis

Head and neck cancers initiate in the squamous cells that line the mucosal surfaces of the neck and head, for instance inside the throat, voice box, and mouth. This kind of cancer is also known as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. In some cases, it also arises in the salivary gland, sinuses, or nerves in the head and neck. 

There are several options available for head and neck cancer treatment in India. In India, there is numerous renowned hospital across various states of the country that is highly recommended for the treatment of cancer, such as Head and Neck cancer. Doctors in India are highly qualified, well trained, and possess expertise in their specific field. 

Types of Head and Neck Cancer:

Hypopharyngeal Cancer: The bottom part of the throat i.e., the pharynx is known as the hypopharynx. The cancer cells form in the tissues of the hypopharynx. For instance, squamous cell carcinoma, which is the most common type of hypopharyngeal cancer. 

Laryngeal cancer: The part between the base of the tongue and trachea is the larynx. The disease in which malignant cells arise in the tissues of the larynx.

Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer: In this, the formation of cancer cells takes place in the mouth.

Metastatic Squamous Neck Cancer: It is a disease in which squamous cell cancer spreads to lymph nodes in the neck. 

Nasopharyngeal Cancer: The upper part of the throat, the nasopharynx which is situated behind the throat, develops this type of cancer.

Oropharyngeal Cancer: The middle part of the throat behind the mouth is known as the oropharynx. In this, malignant cell arises to form in the tissues of the oropharynx.

Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer:   Sinus is the cell lining that forms mucus, which keeps the inside of the nose from drying out during breathing is called a sinus. The para sinuses refer to a hollow, air-filled space in the bones around the nose. In this, the formation of cancer cells takes place in the tissue of the paranasal cavity.

Salivary Gland Cancer: The formation of saliva takes place in the salivary gland which is further released into the mouth. This kind of cancer is rare and in this cancer cells form in the tissue of the salivary gland.

Causes of Head and Neck Cancer: 

Head and neck cancer treatment can be successful if specialized doctors diagnose the cause at the right time. Numerous factors that lead to the squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck are:

Causes of Head and Neck Cancer

Usage of Tobacco: The regular consumption of tobacco is one of the significant factors for developing head and neck cancers, especially cancers of the oral cavity, hypopharynx, and voice box.

Alcohol Consumption: Regular drinking habits can lead to various life-threatening diseases, such as cancers.

Betel-Liquid: It is commonly known as paan. The consumption of paan or gutka causes oral cancer.

Radiation Exposure: Radiation on the non-cancerous cell can become a risk factor for head and neck cancer.

Prolonged Infection: Any kind of chronic infection left untreated or undiagnosed can lead to a serious case of cancer.

Symptoms of Head & Neck Cancer: 

Symptoms vary from person to person as well as also depend on specific areas. Some of the common symptoms include:

Oral cavity: Patches on the gums, the tongue, or the lining of the mouth generally in white or red colour, swelling of the jaw that makes uncomfortable, and unexpected bleeding in the mouth.

Pharynx: Also known as throat, continuous pain while swallowing food from a long time, pain or ringing in the ears; or difficulty in hearing.

Larynx: Difficulty while speaking due to the pain in the voice box.

Paranasal sinuses: Chronic sinus infections that do not respond to treatment with medication; unusual bleeding through the nose; irresistible headaches, swelling in the eyes; and pain in the upper teeth.

Salivary glands. Swelling under the chin or around the jawbone, numbness or of the muscles in the face, chronic pain in the face, the chin, or the neck.

Diagnostic Test for Head and Neck Surgery:

Endoscopy: A diagnosis method in which the doctor places a laryngoscope, esophagoscope, and nasopharyngoscope in the mouth to enlarge the view of the larynx, esophagus, and nasopharynx.

Laboratory Test: It includes the collection of urine, stool, blood, or any other required substance from the body to identify the problem.

Physical Examination: It is the way of a doctor to inspect the nasal or oral cavities or any kind of lumps on the cheeks, gums, lips, etc.

Biopsy: It is the process for the removal of the tissue which further goes for the diagnosis purpose. It has the highest accuracy rate to detect cancer. 

X-rays: It forms images of suspected areas inside the head and neck

CT Scan: It depicts the detailed analysis of areas inside the neck and head with the help of a computer.

MRI: Also known as magnetic resonance imaging a powerful magnet-based procedure to give detailed pictures of areas inside the head and neck.

Stages: Head and Neck Cancer

There are various stages of cancer that can describe the seriousness of the disease. The five major stages of head and neck cancer are:

Stage 0: It is the very beginning stage which is also known as carcinoma in situ. It states that abnormal cells of the affected area can become malignant cells.

Stage 1:It is the early stage of cancer. The tumor is small, probably less than 2 centimeters, and cancer does not reach the lymph node.

Stage 2: At this, the size of the tumor is somewhere between two to four centimeters and has not reached the lymph nodes yet.

Stage 3: At this stage, cancer is already spread to a lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor and the lymph node is smaller than three centimeters.

Stage 4:  It is an advanced stage of head and neck cancer. The tumor may be any size and has spread to nearby tissue of the head and neck as well as distant parts of the body beyond the head and neck, such as the lungs.

Head and Neck Cancer Treatment in India

The head and neck treatment can be successful if it is diagnosed in the early stage. The key aim of the treatment is to get rid of cancer and protect the organ of your body from the growth of the cancer cells. There are various treatment options available for head and neck cancer in India, such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. 

Surgery: The main purpose of the surgery is to eliminate malignant tissues. This kind of surgical procedure is performed by the specialized onco-surgeon. It includes several processes for the removal of cancerous cells, such as:

Excision: A type of operation which removes the cancerous tissues.

Laser: This technique helps to treat early-stage tumors, specifically larynx cancer.

Lymph Node Dissection: If cancer has spread in the lymph nodes then the doctor may remove lymph nodes in the neck

Reconstructive Surgery: This type of surgery is aimed at restoring a person’s appearance of the affected area. It is done to replace the missing tissue.

Endoscopic Laser Surgery:  This procedure is helpful in removing tumors present in the larynx (voice box) or pharynx (throat). The experts perform surgery in a safe environment, using an effective anesthetic that quickly goes away after the procedure.

Robotic Surgery: This kind of process is basically performed in the elimination of the tumors of the tonsils and tongue with the help of robotic arms that are placed in the mouth.

Chemotherapy: It is the technique to utilize the anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs into the vein that is intravenously to kill the cancer cells. It assists in the disruption of the growth of abnormal cells. Chemotherapy drugs degrade the growth of cancer cells.

Radiotherapy: Radiation therapy is considered a curative treatment for various patients with head and neck cancers. 

Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy is one of the treatment options available that targets cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or tissue that can destroy the malignant cells and stop their growth. 

Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy is a natural therapy that combats cancer by inducing the body’s specific immune system.

India: The Best Option for the Treatment of Cancer

Hospitals in India offer world-class treatment with all facilities applicable for the patients.

All prominent hospitals come under the JCI.

The latest technologies and equipment are present in the hospitals as well as at the cancer treatment centers.

The expertise doctor committee performs treatment and ensures the safety of patients.

Trained English-speaking, as well as local language-speaking nurses and staff, are at your services. 

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