Cancer is one of the diseases that is getting longer and more sufferers, including head and neck cancer. According to data released by Globocan in 2018, 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women worldwide have cancer. The effects of cancer are not mild, with 1 in 8 men and 1 in 11 women dying from the condition.
The most common cancers found are lung cancer and liver cancer for men, as well as breast cancer and cervical cancer for women.
The data does not indicate cancer of the neck and head is rare. The 30 most common neck and head cancers found worldwide include thyroid cancer, lip and oral cancer, brain cancer, skin cancer, laryngeal cancer, pharyngeal cancer, and salivary gland cancer.
Head and neck cancer is a group of cancers that originate in or near your throat, voice box, nose, sinuses, or mouth. Usually, this cancer starts from the cells that line the surface of those parts of the body. Doctors refer to it as squamous cells.
Head and Neck Cancer Types
There are five main types of head and neck cancer. They are named after the specific part they attack on your head or neck. The symptoms can be slightly different from each other.
Oral cavity cancer
This type of cancer attacks your lips and the inside of your mouth. These include:
- Your Gums
- The inside of your cheeks
- Under your tongue
- The very top inside your mouth (hard palate)
- Two-thirds of the front of your tongue
Symptoms of oral cavity cancer are:
- Red or white patches inside your mouth, including on your gums and tongue
- Swelling of your jaw, including swelling that causes dentures to not be properly attached
- Bleeding or pain in your mouth
This is another name from your throat. Pharyngeal is a pipe about 5 inches long, which extends from your nose to the very top of your oesophagus (i.e. a pipe inside your chest that leads down to your stomach). Your pharinx include tonsils, the back of your tongue, and a soft palate. This is the soft part located at the top of the back of your mouth.
Symptoms of pharyngeal cancer are:
- Difficulty breathing or talking
- Pain when swallowing
- Pain in the neck or throat that never heals
- Earache, pain, or ringing in your ears that often recur
- Hard to hear
This is your voice box. The larynx contains your vocal cords and throat valves. It is a small piece of meat that hangs on the back of your throat. It closes your larynx when you eat or drink to keep food and liquid from entering (“getting into the wrong pipe”).
Symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:
- Pain when swallowing
- Ear pain
- Any changes to your voice
Cancer of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses
Your nasal cavity is the space inside your nose. The paranasal sinuses are small spaces in your head bones located around the nose.
Consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of this type of cancer. Here are the signs you need to pay attention to:
- Chronic sinus infections that cannot be cured by antibiotics
- Clogged sinuses that you can’t clean
- Swelling around the eyes
- Pain in your upper teeth
- The dentures you used to wear no longer fit in your mouth
Salivary gland cancer
It produces saliva. They are located at the bottom of your mouth, close to the jawbone.
The following are the symptoms of salivary gland cancer:
- Swelling under your chin
- Swelling around your jawbone
- Numbness or paralysis of the facial muscles
- Pain in your face, chin or neck that never heals.
Head and Neck Cancer Causes
- Consume alco**hol and ciga**rettes
- Damaged teeth are not well maintained / oral hygiene is lacking
- Infectious diseases of the oral cavity
- Hereditary and genetic factors