It is hard to condense everything you need to know about head and neck cancer in a small, short piece of text. This is mainly due to the fact that the head and neck can be affected by a huge variety of different cancers. These can affect the throat, the mouth, the sinuses, the middle ear, the nose, and the salivary glands. If the cancer is a form of mouth cancer, it can develop anywhere inside the mouth, including the tongue, or on the lips. The floor of the mouth and the side of the tongue are the most common locations.
Meanwhile, throat cancer can be present in any part of the neck. Throat cancers usually refer to the larynx (voice box) or the pharynx, however. At the same time, the cancer may affect the trachea (windpipe), the esophagus (gullet), or the thyroid. It is important to differentiate between those, because treatment and prognosis are both different for the various cases.
One thing of importance in everything you need to know about head and neck cancer is that they are usually caused by squamous cells. These are the types of cells that line the throat, nose, and mouth. That said, squamous cells, which originate from that area, can cause cancer in various other parts of the body.
Understanding Everything You Need to Know About Head and Neck Cancer:
Although people may often say that they have head and neck cancer, this doesn't actually mean a lot. This is due to the fact that there are so many different parts that can be affected by cancer (as described above), and each of them are to be treated differently. Having the right information on hand is very important, therefore. If you have been diagnosed with a head and/or neck cancer, you must speak to your healthcare team to find out exactly what is happening and what you can expect. Although the brain is found inside the head, brain cancers are not classed as a type of head and neck cancer.
Some cancers of the head and neck are very rare. These include:
– Paranasal sinus cancer, which affects the nasal spaces found between the facial bones, to the side of the nose and the cheekbone. Paranasal sinus cancer develops in the sinuses' lining.
– Salivary cancer, which affects the salivary glands, responsible for creating saliva and keeping the mouth moist. Three salivary gland pairs exist: the parotid glans (just in front of the ears to the side of the face), the sub-mandibular glands (underneath the jawbone on each side of the face), and the sublingual glands (under the mouth's floor and under each tongue side). Parotid gland salivary cancer is most common compared to other forms.
– Middle ear cancer, which is incredibly rare. The middle ear consists of the tympanum cavity and the eardrum. Inside the tympanum are three tiny bones, the stapes, the incus, and the malleus, which connect the inner ear and the eardrum. The nasopharynx is connected to the tympanum through the Eustachian tube. Each of those elements can be affected by cancer.