Medical Dictionary of Bone Cancer

C A N C E R  I N F O R M A T I O N

Head and Neck Cancer

There are many different types of cancer. Head and neck cancer can develop in over 30 different places. Head and neck cancer can affect the oral cavity which includes the mouth and lips, tongue, the roof of the mouth, the floor of the mouth, the gums and even the lining of the lips and cheeks.

Head and neck cancer can also develop in oropharynx. This is part of the throat. This area includes the soft area that is located on the roof of the mouth, the part of the tongue that cannot be seen, the throat walls where the tonsils are located and the back walls of the throat.

Another place where head and neck cancer can start is in the nose. Cancer can develop in the lining of the nose and in the skin of the nostrils. Nose cancer also includes the part of the throat behind the nose and in the sinuses. Another area where a person can be diagnosed with head and neck cancer is the ears. Some people will develop cancer on the skins of their ears, or deep inside the ear itself.

Head and neck cancer can also occur in the eye. Individuals may have cancer arise on their eyelids. Cancer in the eye itself is very rare, but when it does occur it is called ocular melanoma.

Treatment for head and neck cancer will be dependent upon the individual, the type of cancer that is found, the stage of cancer and the individuals’ general health.

If you are diagnosed with a head and neck cancer your lymph nodes will be checked to see if the cancer has spread to them. Many times when a tumor is located in the body a surgeon will remove it, as well as nearby lymph nodes. They can view the lymph nodes to determine if the cancer has spread to them. This helps doctors understand the cancer and it also helps them estimate the patient’s risk of the cancer coming back.

Cancer can spread in the body because cancerous tumors are comprised of millions of cells. When some of them break away from the primary cancer area and get into the bloodstream and travel they can stay in a dormant place in the body for years or they can begin to grow in these regions and tumors can form. When someone has lymph nodes cancer and it is a secondary cancer to the head and neck cancer – the cancer cells taken from the lymph nodes will look like the cancer cells from the primary cancer source.

One of the more common symptoms of lymph nodes cancer is that the lymph nodes may feel hard or become enlarged. Yet, it is important to note that if there is only a small number of cancer cells in the lymph nodes there may be no swelling or hardness. That is why it is important that a portion of the lymph nodes be removed and examined. It is also important to note that the lymph nodes can become enlarged for a number of reasons and it doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has lymph nodes cancer.

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