Head & Neck Surgery

What is Head & Neck Surgery?

The behavior of the neck and head cancer depends on the site where it arises. In most of the cases of neck and head cancer, it originates from the cells the surround the mucosal surfaces in your neck and head region including nose, mouth, and throat. Mucosal surfaces are the linings of the cavities and hollow organs in the body. Under the microscope, the normal mucosal surface would look like scales. But when the patient is having neck and head cancer the mucosal surfaces would look like squamous cell carcinomas. But if cancer develops in the glandular cells, then they are referred to as adenocarcinomas.

Categories of Head and Neck Cancer According to their Site!

  • Oral Cavity – This includes the front 2/3 of the tongue, lips, the floor of the mouth, buccal mucosa, the gingival, the hard palate and small area behind wisdom teeth
  • Salivary Glands – This is the gland that produces saliva and it jeeps the mucosal surfaces in the throat and mouth moist. There are several salivary glands including sublingual, minor ones, submandibular and parotid.
  • Paranasal Sinuses and Nasal Cavity – The small hollow spaces in bones of the head surrounding your nose is referred to as paranasal sinuses. The hollow space behind the nose is referred to as the nasal cavity
  • Pharynx – The hollow tube of 5 inches running through the nose and reaches the esophagus and the windpipe is referred to as Pharynx and it has three parts.
  • Nasopharynx – This is the upper portion of pharynx and it is located behind the nose
  • Oropharynx – This is the middle part of the pharynx and includes the soft palate, tonsils and the base of the tongue
  • Hypopharynx – The lower part of the pharynx
  • Larynx – The voice box or the short passageway created by the cartilage below the pharynx in the neck is referred to as Larynx and it comprises the vocal cords.
  • Lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck
How to Diagnose of Head & Neck Cancer?
  • Physical Examination – The physical examination may include inspection of oral and nasal cavities visually along with tongue, neck, and throat using mirrors or lights.
  • Endoscopy – This is the process that involves the use of lighted, thin flexible tube called endoscope to examine the cancerous cells inside the body. There are different types of the endoscope and which one is suitable for your case depends on the area that is being examined.
  • Laboratory tests are also performed where blood samples are collected, cells from nodes and urine are also collected for tests.
  • X-Rays, MRIs and CT scans are also done inside the Neck and Head to get detailed imagining of the areas inside your neck and head.
  • A biopsy is also performed by the doctor so as to remove the tissues for further pathologist study.

What are the Possible Treatment Options for Head and Neck Cancer?

  • Surgery - The surgery is performed by the oncologist to remove cancer and the other healthy tissues around the cancerous cells. In the surgery, the doctors would remove the lymph nodes in the beck and if they suspect that cancer has spread, then they may accompany radiation treatment to stop the spreading. The risk of the surgery includes the inability to chew, talk and swallow.
  • Radiation Therapy – In the early cases of Neck and Head Cancer, doctors may prescribe you for radiation therapy. There are different types of radiation therapies available and it is planned according to the type of cancer you are having. Apart from killing the cancer cells, it also affects your body in different ways.
  • Chemotherapy – Another therapy is chemotherapy which is given along with the radiation therapy or alone in some situations. There are side effects of this therapy and it depends on the type of medications used for the therapy.
  • Targeted Therapy – This is the therapy which is different from the other two therapies mentioned above. This therapy is like smart bombs of the chemo process. The therapy includes consumption of oral drugs which are designed to kill the cancer cells in the body. However, they have very limited use in Neck and Head Cancer

Apart from these treatment options, doctors may also prescribe anti-cancer drugs and other medications to minimize the spreading of cancer in your body.

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