Head and Neck Cancer
Head and Neck Cancer Care in Fort Myers & Cape Coral
This broad category includes cancers of the mouth and tongue, the throat, the larynx (voice box), sinuses, and salivary glands. Two common risk factors for all of these, though, are smoking and alcohol use.
You also face a higher risk if you have poor oral hygiene, worked with certain industrial materials, or have ever had the HPV virus. Be on the lookout for white or red patches in your mouth, sore throats that won’t heal, or difficulty swallowing. If you are experiencing any symptoms talk to your doctor.
The Lee Health Regional Cancer Center is here to help guide you to treatment. Call the facility at 239-343-9500
Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancers
Head and neck cancer can be difficult to diagnose since symptoms typically are mild and can be confused for a cold or sore throat. Early detection is key to stopping cancer before it develops. Symptoms of head and neck cancer include:
- Trouble swallowing, breathing or speaking
- Mouth or tongue sore that does not heal
- The white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining in the mouth
- Swelling in the jaw, neck, or side of the face
- Sinus infection that does not go away with antibiotics
- Lump in neck or throat area
- Pain in the ears or neck
Types of Head and Neck Cancers
Head and neck cancers – which account for about 65,000 cases each year – are twice as common among men. Your doctor can find the disease with a variety of imaging and blood tests, and they encourage you to frequently visit your dentist. If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to check with your doctor immediately.
There are three main ways to treat mouth cancer. Surgery to remove cancerous cells, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Reach out to the Regional Cancer Center for all treatment options best suited for your health.
Mouth cancer is the most common type of head and neck cancer. It mainly affects in and around the mouth including lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor or roof of the mouth. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of mouth cancer, accounting for 9 out of 10 cases. It mainly comes from smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol, and the HPV infection.
Throat cancer is difficult to detect early since it shares similar symptoms to a sore throat or never-ending cough. The most common symptoms of throat cancer in the oropharynx or hypopharynx include a lump in the neck, a persistent sore throat, and difficulty swallowing.
Salivary Gland Cancer
Salivary glands produce saliva, which keeps your mouth moist and helps with swallowing and digestion. The main symptom of salivary gland cancer is a lump or swelling on or near your jaw, or in your mouth or neck. But most of these lumps are non-cancerous. Other symptoms can include numbness in part of your face and drooping on one side of your face.
Laryngeal cancer affects the voice box (larynx) and sits at the bottom of your throat and contains your vocal cords. The main symptom of laryngeal cancer is having a hoarse voice for more than 3 weeks. The condition is more common in people over the age of 60. It's more common in men than women.
Nasal and Sinus Cancer
Nasal and sinus cancer affects the nasal cavity (above the roof of your mouth) and the sinuses (the small, air-filled cavities inside the bones of the nose and within the cheekbones and forehead). The symptoms of nasal and sinus cancer are similar to viral or bacterial infections, such as the common cold or sinusitis. If you smoke, it's important that you give up. Smoking increases your risk of cancer returning and may cause you to have more side effects from treatment.