The major culprits are chewing tobacco, betel nut, paan, smoking cigarettes and consuming excessive alcohol. Another risk factor is an infection with the HPV which increases the risk of throat cancer.
Surgery: During surgery, the goal is to remove the cancerous tissue and some of the healthy tissue around it . A surgical oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating cancer using surgery. Types of surgery for head and neck cancer include:
• Excision. This is an operation to remove the cancerous tissue and the margin around it.
• Laser Technology. This may be used to treat early-stage tumors, especially in larynx cancer.
• Lymph Node Dissection. If the doctor suspects that the cancer has spread, the doctor may remove lymph nodes in the neck, possibly causing stiffness in the shoulders afterward. This may be done at the same time as an excision.
• Reconstructive (Plastic) Surgery. This type of operation is aimed at restoring a person’s appearance and function of the affected area. If the surgery requires major tissue removal (for example, removing the jaw, skin, pharynx, or tongue), reconstructive or plastic surgery may be done to replace the missing tissue.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of anti-cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs work by disrupting the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs are usually given into a vein (intravenously). As the drugs circulate in the bloodstream, they can reach cancer cells all over the body. When chemotherapy is given to treat head and neck cancer, it’s usually given in combination with radiotherapy. Chemotherapy has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy, improving cure rates compared to radiation therapy alone for advanced cancers such as those originating in the nasopharynx.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy alone or in combination with chemotherapy is standard curative treatment for many patients with head and neck cancers. Which approach is used depends on the extent of the tumor; radiation and chemotherapy are used in combination when treating more advanced disease. In select situations, such as oral cavity tumors, the patient undergoes surgery followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Radiation therapy, or a combination of radiation and chemotherapy, may be used to treat patients who would develop significant side effects from surgery, those with inoperable cancers, or those who have a poor prognosis after surgery.
Head and Neck Cancers Diagnosis:-
- Physical Examinationmay include visual inspection of the oral and nasal cavities, neck, throat, and tongue using a small mirror and/or lights. The doctor may also feel for lumps on the neck, lips, gums, and cheeks.
- Endoscopy: a laryngoscope is inserted through the mouth to view the larynx; an esophagoscope is inserted through the mouth to examine the esophagus; and a nasopharyngoscope is inserted through the nose so the doctor can see the nasal cavity and nasopharynx.
- Laboratory testsexamine samples of blood, urine, or other substances from the body.
- X-rayscreate images of areas inside the head and neck on film.
- CT (or CAT) Scanis a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the head and neck created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (or MRI)uses a powerful magnet linked to a computer to create detailed pictures of areas inside the head and neck.
- PET Scanuses sugar that is modified in a specific way so it is absorbed by cancer cells and appears as dark areas on the scan.
- Biopsyis the removal of tissue. A pathologist studies the tissue under a microscope to make a diagnosis. A biopsy is the only sure way to tell whether a person has cancer.
Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy are the three main types of treatment for administering head and neck cancer. Surgery or radiation therapy is considered as the primary treatments while chemotherapy is usually used as an adjuvant or additional treatment. Primary cancer can be easily treated with the help of radiation therapy. Radiation therapy can also effectively treat the neck. A neck dissection is also sometimes necessary for removing involved lymph nodes in the neck when the amount of disease in the neck nodes is very wide.
Surgery is considered as a very important treatment that can be done either before or after the radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is given afterward when it is necessary to remove the primary tumor surgically. The tumor is first tried to shrink by using radiotherapy and surgery is followed by radiotherapy
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