Head and Neck Cancer: Oral Cancer & Paranasal Cancer Nose & Throat Cancer Symptoms & Treatment

Head and neck cancer refers to those cancers in the head and neck region like sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat and larynx. It does not include brain tumor or cancer. Some causes of developing these types of cancer include use of tobacco and alcohol, human papilloma virus infection are some of the factors which increase the risk of these cancers. In this article we go into details by segregating head and neck cancer into two types: nose and sinus cancer, and mouth and throat cancer (also known as oral cancer).

Mouth & Throat Cancer (Oral Cancer)
These are cancers of the lips, front two-third of the tongue, gums, cheek, floor of the mouth, hard palate etc.

It is important to be aware that tobacco use of any form and drinking alcohol are the most important risk factors for oral cancer. In addition, human papilloma virus infections increase the risk of oral cancers. In India, the practice of chewing tobacco with betel leaf makes oral cancer the most common type of cancer. 

Mouth & Throat Cancer Symptoms
Common symptoms include a sore throat that just will not go away, difficulty swallowing, change in voice, a white patch in the lining of the mouth, trouble breathing, etc.

The most commonly known symptoms of throat cancer are bumps and sores in your mouth, lips and throat. Some other mouth and throat cancer symptoms include sores that bleed without healing, red or white patches in and around your mouth, a raspy or sore throat and thick lumps. You might also experience difficulty in speaking or swallowing when you have throat cancer. Inflammation, numb sensations, discomfort or pain, and dry mouth are some other throat cancer symptoms.

In order to diagnose head and neck cancer, you may need to take certain tests such as an MRI, X-Ray or biopsy. Your general physician or dentist might notice these signs and suggest the same.

Oral Cancer Treatment
Treatment depends on location of the tumor, stage, extent of spread and patient general condition. Some types of treatments used for oral cancers include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and targeted therapy.

Nasal Cavity & Paranasal Sinus Cancer
Nose and sinus cancer affect the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses respectively. Paranasal sinuses are present as hollow pockets in the bones surrounding the nose. In order to avoid the nose from drying out, sinuses produce mucus making the lining moist, which is where the cancer can develop. Just like with mouth and throat cancer, this type of head and neck cancer forms on the moist lining spots. 

If you experience symptoms such as nosebleeds, blocked sinuses, headaches, lumps in your mouth or nose, pressure on your eyes or ears, and pain, do consult your doctor.

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