The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 66,000 people in the U.S. will be affected by head and neck cancer this year. This type of cancer can be readily cured with early detection and treatment. Knowing the warning signs of head and neck cancer and seeing a doctor promptly help lead to early detection. Dr. Gordon Siegel, the board-certified physician at Midwest ENT in Chicago, IL, diagnoses and treats head & neck cancer.
Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms
Several symptoms can develop when head and neck cancer is present. Symptoms can appear in the mouth, throat, nose, or sinuses. Three common signs of head and neck cancer include:
- A lump or mass in the head or neck area
- A sore in the mouth or throat that will not heal
- Hoarseness or a change in the voice
In addition to these common signs of head and neck cancer, there are other symptoms that can also be an indication of the possible presence of cancer. Other symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain when swallowing
- Persistent nasal congestion
- Blood in the saliva or phlegm
- Bad breath not due to poor hygiene
- An inflamed or sore throat that does not get better
- Changes in the skin on the face, forehead, or ears
All of these symptoms can also be associated with other, less serious conditions so their presence does not necessarily mean an individual has head and neck cancer. The experienced otolaryngologist at our ear, nose and throat practice in Chicago, IL, can determine if head & neck cancer is present. Diagnostic tests that are often performed when diagnosing head and neck cancer include biopsy, barium swallow, MRI, CT scan, PET scan, and panendoscopy.
Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancer
Some types of head and neck cancer are preventable by avoiding things like tobacco and alcohol. The use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes or cigars, and frequent heavy alcohol consumption substantially increases the risk for developing head & neck cancer. Other factors known also to increase risk include:
- Prolonged exposure to the sun
- Poor oral/dental hygiene
- A weakened immune system
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Poor nutrition
Men have a higher risk for developing head and neck cancer than women. They are two to three times more likely to have it than are women. Age also increases the risk for getting head and neck cancer. Both men and women over 40 years of age are at an increased risk versus adults in their 20s or 30s.
Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
Head and neck cancer can be readily cured when diagnosed and treated during the early stages. Many effective treatment options are available, including radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Treatment can differ for each patient. ENT doctors develop treatment plans tailored to the specific symptoms and needs of the individual.
Three common signs of head and neck cancer include a mass or lump in the neck or head, a change in the voice, and a mouth or throat sore that does not heal. For the diagnosis and treatment of head & neck cancer in Chicago, IL, schedule an apportionment with Dr. Siegel by contacting Midwest ENT at (312) 988-7777.