The term head and neck cancer refers to a group of cancers found in the head and neck region. This includes tumors of the lip, oral cavity (floor of mouth, palate, oral tongue), oropharynx (tonsil, uvula, upper pharyngeal area and tongue base), nasopharynx (behind the nose in the area of the adenoid bed), larynx (area of the voice box and surrounding tissue), and hypopharynx (posterior pharyngeal wall, pyriform sinus, posterior cricoid/pharyngo-esophageal junction). Tumors of the head and neck are best managed with a team approach. At ORL we work in conjunction with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, speech therapists, family doctors, endocrinologists, general surgeons and support groups to provide the best care for our patients in an expeditious manner.
Risk factors for head and neck cancers include tobacco use and alcohol use. However, it is possible to develop cancer in these areas even with the absence of risk factors.
- Persistent oral ulcers
- Persistent sore throat
- Change in voice for longer than three weeks (hoarseness or laryngitis)
- Painful swallowing or difficulty with swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Noticeable mass or lump in the area of the neck, oral cavity, salivary gland
- Chronic cough
- Hemoptysis (coughing up blood)
- Persistent ear ache
Prompt work up and diagnosis is important to adequately treat the cancer. A thorough head and neck examination with the use of fiberoptic laryngoscopy is usually all that is required to get work up started. Once the diagnosis is made, therapy is initiated as soon as possible to ensure the best chance of overall cure and survival. Our staff will help to expedite all tests and follow up appointments so that the patient can concentrate on other issues.
Surgical treatments offered:
- Removal of cancer with reconstruction
- Neck dissections (radical, modified radical, and selective dissections)
- Laryngectomy (removal of the voice box)
- Parotidectomy (removal of the parotid gland – with facial nerve monitoring)
- Salivary gland removal (submandibular or parotid gland removal)
- Partial glossectomy (removal of portion of the tongue)
At ORL skin cancer removal and reconstruction is also regularly treated. This is discussed in other service areas (general services)