Head and Neck Cancer is the term used to describe a variety of malignant tumours which develop in the mouth (Oral Cavity), throat (Pharynx), voice box (Larynx), salivary glands and the nose and sinuses.
Most suffers of head and neck cancer used to be heavy smokers or drinkers. There is now an increasing number of younger, non-smokers developing head and neck cancers due to a virus (HPV or human papilloma virus) which is also responsible for cervical cancer.
Symptoms of cancerous (malignant) lumps or growths may include:
-Persistent pain in the throat and difficulty swallowing food and liquids (Dysphagia)
-Swellings or ulcers in the mouth, which are initially painless until they become infected
-Persistent loss or change in the voice (Hoarseness), lasting more than several weeks, which is not accompanied by a viral infection e.g. laryngitis or flu
-Bleeding in the mouth and throat
-Constant earache especially when swallowing
-The appearance of white lesions (Leukoplakia) and red lesions (Erythroplakia) in the mouth, which last more than several weeks
After a referral to Mr Chisholm, a thorough examination will occur in the clinic. The examination often involves using a small flexible ‘telescope’ to examine the nose/throat (flexible nasendoscopy).
Many of the above symptoms can also be associated with other, less serious, problems in the head and neck i.e. they are not only seen in cases of head and neck malignancy.