Head and Neck Cancer Treatment Takes a Team

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never easy news. You may be wondering which treatment will work best for you or what your next steps should be. At Charleston ENT & Allergy, we’ll make sure you don’t have to answer these questions about head and neck cancers on your own. From your initial diagnosis to the last steps of your treatment and aftercare, our team will be by your side.

Doctor feeling the throat of a patient in a clinical setting.

What Are the Most Common Types of Head and Neck Cancers?

There are several categories of head and neck cancers:

  • Oral cavity cancer involves the lips, tongue, the floor of the mouth, the hard and soft palates or the gums.
  • Laryngeal cancer involves the voice box.
  • Pharyngeal cancer involves any part of the throat except for the voice box.
  • Salivary gland cancer involves the salivary glands.

Cancer of the mouth, throat and larynx are diagnosed more frequently than cancer of the sinus, nasal cavity and salivary glands.

What Are the Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancers?

If you’ve been persistently experiencing any of the following symptoms, make an appointment to see an otolaryngologist:

  • Chronic cough (especially if you are coughing up blood)
  • Hoarseness or other changes in your voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Lumps on the neck
  • Sore throat lasting more than a month
  • Unexplained weight loss

Who Is at Risk for Head and Neck Cancers?

Head and Neck cancers make up 4% of all cancers in the United States. These cancers are more likely to be diagnosed in men and people older than 50.

Head and neck cancers can be caused by tobacco use, exposure to industrial toxins, a diet high in red meats and processed foods, human papillomavirus (HPV), Epstein-Barr virus and acid reflux.

How Are Head and Neck Cancers Diagnosed?

Your otolaryngologist will begin with a discussion of your symptoms and an examination of your head and neck. They may perform a variety of diagnostic tests, including:

  • Biopsy or tissue in the head or neck
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan

Which Treatment Is Right for Me?

Treating options for head and neck cancer depends on the tumor’s size, location and whether it has spread to other areas of the body. Depending on what will work best for you, our specialist may recommend radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy or a combination of these procedures.

What Are the Next Steps?

If you are experiencing symptoms of head and neck cancers, Charleston ENT & Allergy can provide effective diagnosis and the highest quality treatment. Our otolaryngologists will create a customized treatment plan to help you navigate your condition and maintain your health. You don’t have to navigate this difficult diagnosis alone.