UNDERSTANDING HEAD AND NECK CANER
Head and neck cancers are usually caused by squamous cells lining the mucosal surfaces of the head and neck (such as the mouth, throat, and voice box).
Besides squamous cell carcinomas, head and neck cancer can also develop cancers in salivary glands, sinuses, muscles, and nerves. However, these types of cancer are much less common.
SYMPTOMS OF HEAD AND NECK CANCER
HOW TO DIAGNOSE?
The doctor examines the neck, lips, gums, cheeks, nose, mouth, throat, and tongue for lumps and changes. A blood test or urine test may be ordered to diagnose or understand the condition.
Biopsies are performed under a microscope to examine tissue samples. A thin needle is inserted directly into the tumor or lymph node to collect cells. Once the biopsy sample(s) have been removed, they are analyzed by a pathologist. Cytologic examinations are performed under a microscope to look for cancerous cells.
During an endoscopy, the doctor uses a thin, lighted, flexible tube called an endoscope to look inside the body. To examine inside the head and neck, the tube is gently inserted through the nose into the throat and down the esophagus.
Identifying specific genes, proteins, and other tumor-specific factors may be recommended by your doctor through laboratory testing. This test can determine further treatment process.
CT scans use x-rays taken from various angles to take pictures of the inside of the body. These images are then combined by a computer into a detailed, three-dimensional image. The size of the tumor can be measured with a CT scan.
An MRI produces detailed images of the body using magnetic fields rather than x-rays. MRI is used to take pictures of soft tissue, such as the tonsils and the base of the tongue. A tumor’s size can also be measured using this technique.
In a PET scan, organs and tissues are visualized inside the body. The patient is injected with a small amount of radioactive sugar substance. Using a scanner, the inside of the body is visualized by detecting this substance.
By using sound waves, an ultrasound creates a picture of the internal organs to determine if cancer has spread.
A small amount of radiation can be used to create an x-ray image to show the internal structures of a person. In detecting if cancer has spread to the nose, mouth, and tongue.