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The term “head and neck cancer” is used to encompass malignant growths in the mouth, sinuses, larynx, nose and throat. These types of cancer have a lot of common traits and treatments, so they often are lumped together in the head and neck category.

Most cancers in this area of the body are squamous cell carcinomas, which means they begin developing in the flat squamous cells of the tissue surrounding the parts of the body listed above. You can picture squamous cells as looking like fish scales. They cover the surface of the skin, the lining of your digestive and respiratory tract and all the hollow organs in your body.

Right underneath these surface cells – called the epithelium – are moist tissue areas called the mucosa. Non-invasive squamous cell carcinoma, or carcinoma in situ, has not spread beyond the surface layer of tissue. Invasive squamous cell carcinoma has moved deeper into the underlying tissue.

Beyond the Surface

Again, cancers in the larynx, nose, throat, mouth and sinuses usually encompass abnormal growths in the surface cells or layers underneath. However, if a malignancy develops in the salivary glands, is is named by which salivary gland is involved (parotid or submandibular).  The most common types of salivary gland cancers are adenoid cystic carcinoma, mucoepidermoid carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.  The radiation oncologists at our Anchorage head and neck cancer treatment Center are well versed in the treatment of all forms of head and neck cancers, including salivary gland cancers.

Prompts to Seek Medical Attention

The symptoms of head and neck cancers are difficult to attribute to the disease because they often are attributed to other conditions. For example, a persistently sore throat can be a sign of cancer, or it can be a routine symptom in a viral infection. Other symptoms of head neck cancer include difficult the swallowing, pain with swallowing, persistent ear pain, difficulty opening the mouth fully and persistent sores in the mouth. An oncologist at our Anchorage cancer center will be able to run the proper tests to determine whether a head or neck cancer is present.

Learn More About Head and Neck Cancer

Our team of head and neck cancer specialists would be happy to answer all your questions about the disease. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

 

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