Head and Neck Cancer

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Head and neck cancers refer to a group of similar cancers that start in the head and neck including lip, oral cavity (mouth), nasal cavity (inside the nose), par nasal sinuses, pharynx (behind the mouth and nasal cavity) and larynx (voice box). Approximately 90 percent of head and neck cancers originate from the mucus lining within these regions. Head and neck cancers often spread to the lymph nodes of the neck if they are not caught early enough.

These types of cancers are often associated with certain environmental and lifestyle risk factors, including tobacco smoking and chewing, alcohol consumption, UV light, particular chemicals used in certain workplaces, and certain strains of viruses, such as human papillomavirus (HPV).

The signs and symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or a sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice. 

Head and neck cancers can be curable if detected early, usually with surgery, although chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also play important roles. This year, an estimated 59,340 people (43,390 men and 15,950 women) will develop head and neck cancer. It is estimated that 12,290 deaths will occur this year because of this disease.*

St.Vincent Cancer Care

St.Vincent Head and Neck Tumor Clinic diagnoses and treats patients with head and neck cancers using a variety of therapies, including surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. With the incidence of head and neck cancers continuing to increase, the physical wellbeing and survival of head and neck cancer patients can significantly be enhanced when various disciplines and treatment options are integrated at one place.

Head and Neck cancers include:

  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Lip and Oral Cavity Cancer
  • Metastatic Squamous Neck Cancer with Occult Primary (cancer that forms on the surface of the skin and the lining of body cavities such as the mouth)
  • Paranasal Sinus and Nasal Cavity Cancer
  • Parathyroid Cancer
  • Throat Cancer
  • Salivary Gland Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer

St.Vincent has developed a dedicated inpatient unit with specially trained staff to ensure the highest quality clinical care for patients with cancers of the head and neck, and patients needing voice restoration following laryngeal cancer treatment.

*Statistics adapted from the American Cancer Society’s publication, Cancer Facts & Figures 2015 and the National Cancer Institute.