Head and neck cancers constitute a very wide spectrum;
Cancers of the lips, tongue, tonsils, palate and floor of the mouth, which we call the oral cavity,
Cancers originating from the inside of the nose and the skin of the nose,
Paranasal sinus cancers that develop from the air-filled spaces we call sinuses in the facial bones,
Throat cancers (nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal cancers)
Cancers in the initial part of the esophagus (hypopharyngeal cancers)
Throat (larynx) cancers,
salivary gland cancers,
thyroid gland cancers,
Neck cancers are included in this scope.
Head and neck cancers are more common in men over 50 years of age. It is among the types of cancer that can be treated if detected early.
Smoking and alcohol consumption, poor diet, poor oral hygiene, some viruses, especially human papillomavirus (HPV), exposure to long-term sunlight and some chemicals are the main causes of head and neck cancers.
Swelling in any part of the head and neck, non-healing sores in the mouth, tongue or lips, numbness in the mouth, difficulty in chewing and swallowing, hoarseness or change in voice, difficulty breathing, nasal congestion or nosebleeds, swelling around the eyes or double vision, ear pain, tinnitus, hearing loss, and neck swelling.
A detailed otorhinolaryngological examination, radiological examinations (ultrasonography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography), a part of the suspicious area for pathological examination is taken for a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of head and neck cancers usually requires multidisciplinary work. Collaboration with otolaryngologist, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, radiologist, if possible, psychologist is required. In cases where reconstruction is required, a plastic jaw surgeon and a plastic surgeon should also be present.
Surgical treatments are the first choice for head and neck cancers. However, radiation therapy (radiotherapy) is also a very effective option for many head and neck cancers. The role of radiation therapy is increasing day by day, especially in the treatment of early laryngeal cancers and nasopharyngeal cancers.
While sometimes a single treatment method (surgical treatment, radiation therapy or drug treatment) is sufficient for head and neck cancers, sometimes these treatment options are used together.
The treatment protocol may vary for each patient. The stage of the cancer, the type of cancer, the age of the patient, the occupation of the patient, and the socioeconomic status of the patient are important in determining the treatment protocol.