Head & neck cancer (HNC) most commonly refers to cancers arising from the mouth, throat, voicebox, salivary glands, or sinuses. Skin cancers and thyroid cancers are also extremely common and require specific surgical treatments (refer to the next tab for thyroid cancer information). Cancers arising in these areas can result in swelling, lymph node swelling, trouble swallowing, hoarseness, bleeding, and pain. Many times the initial site of the cancer is completely silent and all that arises is a swollen lymph node in the neck.
Traditional risk factors for HNC were tobacco and alcohol exposure. However now the most common presenting cancers are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus and generally have a tendency to strike younger healthier victims.
A non-healing spot in the mouth / throat or a painless swollen lymph node are the most common presentations of HNC. Any ulcer or lymph node that remains after a few weeks should be evaluated by your doctor.
We are hopeful that the HPV vaccine will have success in lowering HNC rates in the future, but in the meantime a screening test for active HPV virus (with subtype analysis) is available to our patients. This allows us to assess your risk, and set up future screenings, if you think you may have been exposed to the HPV virus.
We perform full evaluative and treatment services for our HNC patients including laryngoscopy, biopsy, lymph node excision, neck dissection, thyroidectomy, Trans-Oral Robotic Surgery, glossectomy, etc. We also work with our colleagues in radiation oncology and medical oncology to arrange for additional treatments after surgery.