Head & Neck Cancer – Symptoms & Treatment

Head & Neck Cancer – Symptoms & Treatment

Head and neck cancer is a club of diseases that initially affects the area around your throat, mouth, voice box, sinuses, or nose. This cancer can give you a hard time occurring on the surface of these body parts.

According to Wikipedia, about 75% of head and neck cancer occurs by copious consumption of alcohol or tobacco use in excess though risk factors also include betel quid, particular kind of human papillomavirus, radiation exposure, Epstein-Barr virus, and some workplace exposures. 

Further, it says, over 5.5 million people were affected by head and neck cancer in 2015, from which 2.5 million suffered by mouth cancer, 1.7 million by throat cancer, whereas 1.4 million by larynx cancer. Head and neck cancer is the seventh most commonly occurring cancer and ninth most frequent reason of death due to disease.

The most common types of head and neck cancers affect the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, nasal cavity, and paranasal sinuses. The presence of tissue biopsy confirms it, and medical imaging and blood test diagnosis the spread of cancer.

Patients require intensive care for the treatment of head and neck cancer by a cancer specialist to avoid fatal consequences.

Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer

Seemingly harmless symptoms of head and neck cancer are vast. One may go through persisting and chronic conditions of neck pain, lymph node on the outside part of the neck, unhealing sore throat, harsh-sounding voice, painful swallowing, and difficulty in speaking. 

Signs and symptoms can vary for the type of head and neck cancer for which you should go through the information below.

What do Cancer specialist notices for mouth or oral cancer?

  • One can notice thin and irregular white patches or a mix of red and white spots that are more likely to be cancerous if biopsied.
  • You may have the persistent rough patch with ulceration and pain.
  • Dry and crusting ulcer on the lip is also possible.
  • Mass occurring of ulcers in the pharynx.
  • Lips and chin becoming numb.
  • Continuous ear pain, bleeding gums, and loose teeth are few other symptoms.

Which symptoms of the throat make you knock the door of a cancer hospital?

  • Altered voices
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Change in voice tone.
  • Spread lesions up to lymph nodes of the neck to develop hard and painless mass.
  • Lesions are becoming more significant to cause a burning sensation.
  • Spread of lesions all over the body to cause general aches.

Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Signs and symptoms are not visible until the spread of occurred symptoms into the bony area. As cancer progresses, you can notice:

  • Sinus pressure with blocked sinuses.
  • A patient can have pain in the sinus area and head.
  • Nose Bleedings, pressure on ears, and other pains can occur.

Symptoms noticed at cancer hospital after the Invasion of the tumor into different body parts:

  • The appearance of diplopia, proptosis, and other visual lesions on Invasion into orbit.
  • Once the tumor invades pterygopalatine fossa, infratemporal fossa, or masseteric space, possible symptoms are facial swelling, jaw numbness, jaw lock, toothache, or midface.
  • Later, on Invasion of the tumor on to cranial cavity can cause headaches, cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and nerve damage.

Nasopharynx cancer

  • Swollen lymph nodes on the neck is possible. 
  • Primary tumor with pain, impaired or loss of movement of cranial nerve palsy or paralysis, soft palate, and hearing loss.
  • More significant growth of tumor leading to bleeding or nasal obstruction and a Nasal twang.
  • Organ dysfunctioning or bone pain by the metastatic spread of the tumor can occur.
  • Widespread disease perhaps leads to a paraneoplastic syndrome of osteoarthropathy.

Oropharyngeal cancer and HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer

There are mainly two cancer related to throat, oropharyngeal and HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer:

Oropharyngeal cancer

The symptoms for oropharyngeal cancer may include:

  • Over two weeks of persistent sore throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing with throat pain
  • Abnormal weight loss without any reason
  • Alteration in voice to become more rough or hoarse
  • Earache
  • Throat or mouth with a back lump
  • Neck lump
  • Sternum with a dull pain behind
  • Continuous Cough
  • The problem in breathing.

HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer

  • Tumor pain and infection
  • Difficulty to speak
  • The problem in swallowing and breathing
  • Swollen neck if cancer has spread to lymph nodes
  • Appetite loss and feeling weakness 

Hypopharyngeal cancer

A patient suffering from Hypopharyngeal Cancer may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • As the initial sign-in over 50% of patients, the neck area can have swollen lymph nodes
  • Persistent sore throat at one location after the treatment
  • Radiating pain from throat to ears
  • Problem in swallowing
  • Altered voice

Laryngeal cancer

Depending upon the size and location of the tumor, one may show the following signs, if suffering from laryngeal cancer:

  • Rough voice
  • Neck lump
  • Sore throat
  • Continuous cough
  • Bad breath
  • Air pain
  • Hard to swallow
  • Stridor – Loud wheezing sound indicating narrowing or obstruction in the airway

Trachea or lung cancer

Signs and symptoms that the doctor notices for lung cancer are:

  • Wheezing, coughing, coughing up blood or shortness of breath
  • Clubbing of fingernails, weight loss, fever or weakness
  • Paining chest, difficulty swallowing, superior vena cava obstruction or bone ache

Treatment of head and neck cancer

Patients should choose a doctor very carefully before undergoing surgery by a head surgeon or a neck surgeon. Besides, people suffering from head and neck cancer can lead to improvements with chances of survival and living quality by targeted therapy, local management, and advances in diagnosis. 

Selecting the right and appropriate treatment for a particular type of cancer by keeping in the notice tumor site, attendant health problems, previous primary tumors, relative morbidity of different treatment choices, social and logistic factors, and the preference of the patient. 

A multidisciplinary approach is required in the planning of treatment by specialist surgeons and other medical personnel like radiation oncologists. 

Treatment for head surgery or neck surgery

Surgical treatment is a good option in most of the cases of head and neck cancer. The objective of treatment is to remove the entire cancerous cells. Surgeons carefully remove part or whole cervical lymph nodes to prevent the spread of disease. Few surgical methods include:

  • CO2 laser surgery
  • Transoral laser surgery

During surgery, the surgeon and pathologist collaborate for minimizing the amount of damage to healthy tissue by assessing margin status (adequacy of excision). This technique is helpful for the patient to give the possible speech and swallowing function.

Radiation therapy

It is also highly preferred for head and neck cancer treatments. Categorized among intensity-modulated radiation therapy, brachytherapy, 3D conformal radiation therapy, and particle beam therapy radiotherapies are rigorously performed by a radiologist. 

During the procedure, patients are given high doses to dysfunction thyroid and pituitary axis. People in the US and Europe are mostly inclined towards intensity-modulated radiation therapy by the use of high energy photons.


Chemotherapy provides an inhospitable environment for metastases to restrict cancer to establish in other body parts. Chemotherapy agent cetuximab is the best solution for the cure for throat cancer.

For the treatment of locally advanced head and neck cancer, the docetaxel-based chemotherapy agent has shown a positive result. The US FDA approves it for head and neck cancer.

Administration of the amifostine solution is helpful to protect the gums and salivary glands by the effects of radiation.

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy is best for the treatment of small head and neck tumors. In this photosensitizing agent, Amphinex is beneficial to treat superficial cancers for advanced head and neck cancer.

Targeted therapy

In this treatment method, drugs like monoclonal antibodies help to detect and destroy cancerous cells without damaging healthy cells. It includes cetuximab and erlotinib for squamous cell cancers.


Immunotherapy activates the immune system to fight against cancer. Immune checkpoint blockade is a type of ‘immunotherapy’ that works on immune cells for binding and blocking inhibitory signals to activate anti-cancer activities of cells.     

Ojas Hospital – Best Super-specialty hospital in Panchkula

Ojas Hospital is among the best hospital offering treatments for head and neck cancer.

Having standards of level 1 trauma center for head and neck cancer, Ojas includes amenities like a laboratory for investigation, ultrasound with high-resolution, CT scan, and X-ray lab.

ICU for patients with head and neck disorders assure comprehensive treatment to save the life of patients suffering from head and neck cancer.

Our head and neck cancer specialists have an understanding of the symptoms mentioned above and treatment to do proper counseling with patients for their awareness.

Patients undergo adequate diagnoses by expert doctors before treatment. Then treatment by radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy is suggested.

This hospital is a gateway of hope for many patients suffering from head and neck cancer and offers them efficient treatment for the recovery of their health.

If you need treatment for any of the head and neck cancer, contact us, we are the first multi-specialty hospital that takes the onus to cure patients.

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