Published: Aug. 22, 2011
Updated: Aug. 22, 2011
Head and neck cancer includes cancers (abnormal cells that grow out of control) that form in the cells that line the moist, mucosal surfaces in the head and neck. There are several types of head and neck cancers.
Oral cancer is when cancerous cells arise in the lips or mouth, including the salivary glands. The outlook for patients depends on the location of the cancer and the stage. Early stage oral cancer is highly curable.
Sinus and nasal cavity cancer arises when cancerous cells form in the hollow spaces of the nose or the bones of the head around the nose. Most of these tumors are not found until they are in an advanced stage.
Throat cancer occurs when cancerous cells form in any part of the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), or tonsils. Small, early-stage tumors are very curable. Tumors spread to the lymph nodes of the neck, called ”locally advanced head and neck cancer,” may also be curable.
Thyroid cancer forms in the thyroid gland (an organ at the base of the throat that makes hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight). Four main types of thyroid cancer (papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic) are defined by how the cancer cells look under a microscope.
This type of cancer occurs when squamous cell cancer spreads to lymph nodes in the neck, but it is unknown where the cancer first started. Many patients are cured with surgery and radiation. Sometimes the original tumor will be discovered on a later examination and can be treated.
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