Head & Neck Cancer

What is head & neck cancer?

  • Cancer is a group of disease, where there is abnormal cell growth and these cells are capable of invading surrounding tissue and spread to other sites.
  • Not all tumors are cancerous. Some tumors are benign and they do not spread.
  • Cancers arising in mouth, throat, neck, nose & sinuses, thyroid gland and parotid gland are included in head & neck cancer.

Who are at risk of developing head & neck cancer?

  • Chronic smokers
  • Alcoholics
  • Tobacco chewer

What are pre-cancerous lesion?

These lesions develop following exposure to cancer causing agent, and progress over a period of time to form cancer. These lesions must be followed up strictly on regular basis.

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What are symptoms of Head & Neck cancer?

  • Ulcer over lip, gum, buccal mucosa, tongue, palate that does not heal for 3weeks or more
  • Bleeding from ulcer
  • Difficulty in swallowing food
  • Change in voice.
  • Neck swelling

Is biopsy necessary for diagnosis?

  • Biopsy is required for confirmation of clinical diagnosis. It is done before starting of any treatment. Biopsy does not aggravate the spread of disease, as contrary to common belief.
  • In cancers of thyroid gland and parotid gland fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is done for diagnosis.

What are the treatment options for head & neck cancer?

  • Treatment is planned after clinical staging of disease, which includes complete clinical examination, biopsy and CT/MRI Scan.
  • Early stage diseases are treated with single modality (Surgery/ Radiation therapy), while advanced stage disease would require multi-modality treatment (Surgery & Radiation / chemo-radiation therapy).

Is regular follow up necessary?

  • Regular follow up is essential to detect any recurrence of disease in future. Your doctor would guide you about the follow up schedule.

Would I be able to go to my routine work after treatment?

  • Once your treatment is complete, consult the treating doctor for guiding you. Once you recover following treatment, you may be able to resume routine work.

What precautions should I take?

  • Avoid tobacco products, smoking and alcohol.
  • Take healthy diet and more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Regular physical exercises
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