Cancers of the head and neck most often begin in the moist mucosal lining of the mouth, throat, and nose. These cancers are categorised by the region of origin and the staging and the treatments vary accordingly. The cancers can arise from the following specific areas within the head and neck region:
Mouth (also known as Oral cavity):
Includes the lips, the front two-third of the tongue, gums, cheeks, floor of mouth and hard palate.
Voice box (also known as Larynx)
It is used for speaking. It includes the epiglottis, vocal cords, and the region below the vocal cords which is called sub glottis.
Sinuses and Nose
Sinuses are hollow cavities in the facial bones.
These glands produce saliva. There are two large glands on each side of the face, called parotid and sub mandibular salivary glands. In addition, there are multiple small glands spread throughout the mouth.
Throat (also known as Pharynx)
The throat is divided into three parts. At the top is the part behind the nose, called the nasopharynx. The middle part of the throat, called oropharynx, includes the back of the mouth, soft palate, posterior one-third of the tongue, and the tonsils. The lowermost part of the throat is called the hypopharynx. It includes the piriform sinus, the posterior hypopharyngeal wall, and the post cricoid region.
Common risk factors leading to these cancers include
- Chewing Tobacco and Betel nut in the form of paan, gutkha, khaini, mishri, etc.
- Smoking beedi, cigarette, cigars
- Consumption of alcohol
- Poor oral hygiene
- Viral infections such as HPV (Human Pappiloma Virus), EBV (Epstein – Barr Virus)
Radiotherapy is important in treating these cancers as most of them respond well to radiation. Radiotherapy offers a chance of preserving the organ, especially in cancers of the pharynx and larynx. Due to close proximity to many critical organs such as the spinal cord and the brain, complex high precision radiotherapy techniques are required to attain the best possible cure rates with minimal side effects. Depending on the stage and location of the cancer, patients may need a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy to obtain optimal results. After evaluating your case, we will advise you regarding the best combination of treatments for you and also connect you with the appropriate specialists.