Head and Neck Cancer
SYMPTOMS OF HEAD AND NECK CANCER
A lump in the neck. Cancers that begin in the head or neck usually spread to lymph nodes in the neck before they spread elsewhere. A lump in the neck that lasts more than two weeks should be seen by our physicians as soon as possible.
Change in the voice. Most cancers in the larynx cause some changes in voice. Our otolaryngologist is a head and neck specialist who can examine your vocal cords easily and painlessly.
A growth in the mouth. Most cancers of the mouth or tongue cause a sore or swelling that doesn’t go away. These may be painless, which can be misleading. Bleeding may occur, but often not until late in the disease.
Bringing up blood. This is often caused by something other than cancer. However, tumors in the nose, mouth, throat or lungs can cause bleeding. If blood appears in your saliva or phlegm for more than a few days, you should see our physician.
Swallowing problems. Cancer of the throat or esophagus (swallowing tube) may make swallowing solid foods and sometimes liquids difficult. The food may stick at a certain point and then either go through to the stomach or come back up. If you have trouble almost every time you try to swallow something, you should be examined by our physician.
Changes in the skin. The most common head and neck cancer is basal cell cancer of the skin. Fortunately, this is rarely serious if treated early. Basal cell cancers appear most often on sun-exposed areas like the forehead, face and ears, but can occur almost anywhere on the skin.
Persistent earache. Constant pain in or around the ear when you swallow can be a sign of infection or tumor growth in the throat. These symptoms should be evaluated by our otolaryngologist.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
All of the symptoms and signs described here can occur with no cancer present. In fact, many times complaints of this type are due to some other condition. But you can’t tell without an examination. So if they do occur, see our doctor to be sure.
Remember when found early, most cancers in the head and neck can be cured with few side effects. Cure rates for these cancers could be greatly improved if people would seek medical advice as soon as possible. Play it safe. If you detect warning signs of head and neck cancer, see our doctor immediately. And practice health habits which help prevent these diseases.