Head and Neck Cancer Surgery
Even if you follow an active and healthy lifestyle, you may be at risk for developing head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancers account for 3% to 5% of all cancer diagnoses each year with 50,000 new cases annually. In many cases, the cellular changes that lead to these cancers start in the mucosal surfaces such as the mouth, the nose, or the throat. The cells in these areas are known as squamous cells and are often the starting point for many carcinomas.
As with cancers that start in other areas of the body, cancers in the head and neck can spread and lead to serious and life-threatening complications. The overall outlook for patients who have cancers in these areas of the body is best for those who receive thorough and prompt treatment for cancers that are caught early.
Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists brings you our expertise in diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer. Our board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons serve the greater Tampa Bay community.
Treating Head and Neck Cancers
Skin, the largest organ in the human body, is made up of two layers. The outer layer of skin cells is called the epidermis and it is comprised of three types of cells:
- Squamous cells: flat, scaly cells on the surface of the skin
- Basal cells: round cells
- Melanocytes: cells that give the skin pigment and protect it from damage
The inner layer of skin is called the dermis. The dermis contains the skin’s blood vessels, sweat glands, and nerves.
Skin cancer is when cancerous (malignant) cells are found in the outer layer of skin. There are three major types of skin cancer:
Throat cancer is an overall term that is used to describe any form of cancer that develops in or around the throat (pharyngeal cancer). This term can also be applied to cancers that form on or in the voice box (laryngeal cancer).
The throat and the voice box work together. The voice box is situated right underneath the throat. The majority of throat cancers stem from the same type of cells. Different terminology is used to describe different throat cancers based on the part of the throat where the cancer began.
- Cancer that originates in the area of the throat just behind the nose is called nasopharyngeal cancer.
- Cancer that originates in the area of the throat that is just behind the mouth including the area of the tonsils is referred to as Oropharyngeal cancer.
- Cancer that originates in the lower section of the throat in the area above the esophagus and the windpipe is called Hypopharyngeal cancer.
- Cancer that originates in the vocal cords is called Glottic cancer.
- Cancer that originates in the top part of the larynx or in the epiglottis (a small piece of cartilage designed to prevent food from entering the windpipe) is referred to as Supraglottic cancer.
- Cancer that originates in the lower part of the voice box in the area below the vocal cords is called Subglottic cancer.
Thyroid cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin growing in your thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck and is shaped like a butterfly. The thyroid gland makes the hormones that regulate how your body uses energy, and that help your body work normally.
Thyroid cancer is not a very common type of cancer. Because thyroid cancer is most often diagnosed in the early stages, the prognosis is good for most patients. However, thyroid cancer can come back, sometimes a long time after a patient goes into remission.
Sinus cancer, also known as sino nasal cancer or nose cancer, occurs when an abnormal malignant growth develops in an individual’s nasal or sinus cavities. The nasal cavity is located just under the upper bridge of the nose. The sinus cavities are located in the lower forehead in the area between the eyes and the upper part of the cheeks. The most common location of sinus cancer is in the maxillary sinus or cheeks.
The most common form of cancer that occurs in the nasal region is squamous cell carcinoma. Other types of cancer that can occur in this region include:
- Malignant melanoma
- Undifferentiated carcinoma
In some cases, sinus and nasal cancers may metastasize, or spread, to the lymph nodes of the neck or other nearby regions before symptoms occur.
The viral infection HPV is one cause of sinus cancer (sino nasal cancer), and HPV is known to cause benign sinus tumors. Known as inverted papillomas, the HPV-related tumors can sometimes develop into squamous cell carcinoma.