Cancer of the Head & Neck

No one wants to hear the word "cancer", but experts agree that early detection is the key to successful treatment. Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3 to 5 percent of all cancers in the United States.Types that are considered cancer of the head and neck are often identified by the area in which they begin:

  • oral cavity; lips, front 2/3 of the tongue, gums, cheek and lip lining, floor of the mouth, top of the mouth, and the small area behind the wisdom teeth
  • salivary glands; there are many, the major glands being in the floor of the mouth and near the jawbone
  • paranasal sinuses and sinus cavity; hollow spaces inside and surrounding the nose
  • pharynx; hollow tube behind the nose that leads to the esophagus and the trachea
  • larynx; "voice box" and epiglottis
  • lymph nodes in the upper neck

Cancers of the brain, eye, thyroid, those of the scalp, skin, muscles and bones of the head and neck are not usually grouped with cancers of the head and neck. 

Common symptoms of head and neck cancer include:

  • lump or sore that does not heal
  • sore throat that does not go away
  • painful or difficult swallowing
  • change of voice or hoarseness
  • white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
  • swelling of the jaw
  • unusual bleeding or pain in the mouth
  • sinuses that are blocked and do not clear
  • chronic sinus infections that do not respond to treatment with antibiotics
  • bleeding through the nose
  • frequent headaches
  • swelling or other trouble with the eyes
  • pain in the upper teeth or problems with dentures
  • swelling under the chin or around the jawbone
  • numbness or paralysis of the muscles in the face
  • pain that does not go away in the face, chin, neck or throat
  • ear pain or ringing in the ears
  • trouble hearing
  • trouble breathing or speaking 

Diagnosis includes a physical examination, evaluation of your medical history and a variety of tests depending on symptoms. Treatment depends on a number of factors and Dr. Nancy Becker and her team will discuss with you all options and consider them carefully. 

360.825.4466 in Enumclaw
253.750.0747 in Bonney Lake

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