Head & Neck Cancer Diagnosis in Camden SC
Head and neck cancer is a term that is used to describe tumor growths in the mouth nose and throat. It is estimated that this type of cancer only accounts for approximately four percent of all cancers in the US.
Types of Cancer of the Head and Neck
Cancer of the head and neck are categorized by the area of the area in which the cancer starts.
Specific Areas Affected
Symptoms & Indications
Cheek lining, lips, tongue, gums, the mouth floor, and the roof of the mouth.
Swelling, unusual bleeding, pain, and/or white or red patches in the tissues of the mouth.
Pharynx (the tube that connects the nose and esophagus.)
Tth area of the pharynx behind the nose, the tonsils, base of the tongue, and the part of the pharynx that connects to the esophagus.
Difficulty breathing, speaking, and swallowing. Ringing in ears, decreased hearing ability, and frequent headaches.
Larynx (the voice box)
Vocal cords and epiglottis (the tissue that covers the larynx.)
Difficulty swallowing food or water and ear pain.
Paranasal Sinus & Nasal Cavity
The sinuses that surround the nose and the hollow area inside the nose.
Frequent sinus infections that do not clear, headaches, and nosebleeds.
The glands located in the floor of the mouth and jawbone.
Swelling around the jaw or chin, facial numbness, or pain in the face, chin, or neck.
Detecting and Diagnosing Head & Neck Cancer
If a patient notices any of the signs or symptoms of head and neck cancer, it is vital that they make an appointment with a specialist as soon as possible. During the visit, our doctors may use a combination of the following to determine if head and neck cancer is present:
During a diagnostic evaluation, the doctor will first evaluate a person’s medical history and discuss the frequency and length of symptoms with the patient. A physical examination will be performed by feeling for lumps around the neck, jaw, cheeks, gums and lips. The doctor will then inspect inside the nose, mouth, and throat to determine if any abnormalities are present.
Further tests will be conducted if any areas of concern are found.
Sometimes, a normal physical examination doesn’t provide the doctor with enough information. A flexible imaging device called an endoscope is inserted through the nose so that the doctor can examine the inside of the pharynx or larynx.
In instances where cancer is suspected to exist in the neck area, a patient may swallow a small amount of barium while an x-ray is performed. The barium will help doctors see if any abnormalities exist in the swallowing passage.
In cases where a growth is suspected to be near the jawbone or boney area of the roof of the mouth, some doctors may choose to perform this procedure. A panoramic radiograph provides images from several angles of these two areas.
In instances where cancerous growths are suspected in the tonsils or tongue, an MRI is performed. This style of imaging is effective at providing detailed images of soft tissue.
Once a growth or abnormal section of tissue is identified, doctors will perform a biopsy to determine if it is cancerous. The doctor will obtain a sample of the tissue and send it to a pathologist to be tested. If the results determine that cancer is present, treatment will need to be administered.