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Learn More About Head and Neck Cancers

Treated by the team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers, head and neck cancer is considered a group of cancers that primarily begin in squamous cells lining the mucosal surfaces inside the nose, throat, mouth and salivary glands. These squamous cell cancers are often referred to technically as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck.

What Does Comprehensive See as Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancers?

Alcohol and tobacco use are major risk factors for head and neck cancers. Infection with cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases a person’s risk of certain head and neck cancers. While not every cancer is the same, and everyone has symptoms that are unique to their bodies and health histories, Comprehensive Cancer Centers sees the following as other common signs and symptoms for head and neck cancers:

  • Dietary – Eating excess preserved or salted foods
  • Dental Health – Poor oral hygiene and missing teeth
  • Environmental – Occupational exposure to wood dust, asbestos, and synthetic fibers as well as exposure to radiation
  • Previous Illnesses – Having had past health issues, such as Epstein-Barr virus infection
  • Ethnicity – Those with Asian ancestry, particularly Chinese ancestry, may be more at risks

During Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to learn about the diseases, such as the fact that head and neck cancer is more common among men than women. People over age 50 are diagnosed more often with the diseases than among younger people.

How Does Comprehensive Cancer Screen for Head and Neck Cancer?

If oral or oropharyngeal cancer is suspected, your Comprehensive Cancer Centers physician may use the following tests for screening:

  • Medical History Review with Physical Exam – as a first step, your physician will ask about family history and check for possible physical signs of cancer.
  • Complete Head and Neck Exam – a specialist will use mirrors or fiber-optic scopes to examine the back of the throat and tongue.
  • Panendoscopy – while a patient is under anesthesia, a physician may use various types of endoscopes to examine inside the mouth and throat.
  • Biopsy – a sample of tissue is removed and looked at under a microscope. This is the only way to confirm an oral or oropharyngeal cancer diagnosis.

How Does Comprehensive Cancer Centers Treat Head and Neck Cancer?

If cancer is suspected, the patient will be referred to an oncologist who will conduct tests and determine the appropriate treatment plan. Common treatments for oral or oropharyngeal cancers include:

  • Surgery – Is commonly used to remove cancerous tumors.
  • Radiation – Can used as the main treatment for small cancers, or in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy for larger cancers.
  • Chemotherapy – This is used in combination with radiation therapy or surgery, can treat some cancers.
  • Targeted Therapies – These are newer treatment options for patients with specific mutations.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of treatment options for patients with head and neck cancer.  To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.


The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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