Comprehensive, high-tech head & neck cancer care with the personal touch of a Nurse Navigator, designed to maximize chances of recovery while minimizing treatment side effects and meeting your unique needs.
There are several areas of the head and neck region that can be affected by cancer: the oral cavity, the pharynx, the larynx, the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, and the salivary glands. Although cancers of these areas can present differently, they have similar risk factors and are usually diagnosed and treated using similar technologies.
Our online Learning Center has up-to-date, evidence-based information about numerous topics related to head & neck cancer, including diagnostic tests, treatment options, management of treatment side effects, and more.
These resources are not a substitute for the guidance of your physician but can help you learn more about head & neck cancer and what to expect during treatment. All content is provided courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Health Library.
- White or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
- Jaw swelling
- Unusual bleeding or pain in the mouth.
- Difficulty breathing/speaking
- Pain when swallowing or pain in the neck or throat
- Frequent headaches, pain, or ringing in the ears
- Trouble hearing
- Ear pain
- Pain when swallowing
Paranasal Sinuses and Nasal Cavity
- Blocked sinuses that do not clear
- Chronic sinus infections
- Eye swelling
- Upper teeth pain or problems with dentures
- Chin/jawbone swelling
- Numbness or paralysis of the muscles in the face
- Pain in the face/chin/neck that does not go away
All head & neck cancers share common risk factors, including:
- alcohol use
- tobacco use
- having Human Papilloma Virus
- poor oral hygiene
- occupational exposure (to certain chemicals)
- radiation exposure
- having Epstein-Barr virus
There are several different types of tests for head & neck cancers.
- Complete head and neck exam: The doctor will look and feel for any abnormal areas.
- Panendoscopy: A small, flexible tube is used to look inside your nose, mouth, and throat.
- Biopsy: A small amount of tissue is removed from the target area. The doctor will then examine the tissue to check for abnormal and cancerous cells.
- CT Scan: The combination of a series of x-rays to create detailed images.
- MRI: A scan that uses radio waves and magnets to take detailed pictures.
- Barium swallow: A test that uses x-rays to take images while you swallow a liquid, to help see how your throat looks as you swallow.
- Chest X-ray: This text may be used to see if your cancer has spread to the lungs.
- PET Scan: A scan of the entire body to determine if cancer has spread elsewhere in your body. PET scans can sometimes detect disease before it shows up on other imaging tests.
- Blood Tests: Your doctor may have blood drawn to look for markers/indications of cancer.
The evidence-based treatment plan your doctors choose is based on a number of factors: type of cancer, grade and stage of the cancer, your overall health, and your treatment preferences.
Surgery may be used in certain head and neck cancers to remove all or part of the tongue, throat, voice box, trachea, jaw bone, or lymph nodes.
Chemotherapy for head & neck cancers involves the use of medications to shrink or kill cancerous cells. These medications may be taken intravenously (IV) or as pills. In the case of head & neck cancers, chemo is often given with radiation.
The board-certified medical oncologists, nurses, and technicians at Connecticut Oncology Group provide the most effective, advanced care with warm, personal attention and support for patients and their families. Your medical oncology team will work closely with your other providers and help provide access to clinical trials.
Radiation oncology is the highly-controlled use of radiation to cure or treat symptoms of head & neck cancers.