Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck cancer is a type of cancer cell that starts in the mouth, nose, or throat which begins to grow out of control.
Cancer Care of North Florida will take careful steps stage and grade the tumor to assess the best way to create and manage your treatment plan. Our goal is to achieve the very best outcome while preserving your quality of life.
Head and neck cancer can originate from the following locations:

  • Laryngeal (voice box)
  • Hypopharyngeal (lower throat)
  • Oropharyngeal (throat)
  • Nasopharyngeal (upper throat)
  • Oral cavity (mouth)
  • Nasal cavity (nose)
  • Paranasal sinuses (sinus)
  • Salivary gland

The level of invasiveness is determined by diagnostic testing and imaging.

What are the risk factors for Head and Neck Cancer?

It may be possible to avoid some risk factors for head and neck cancer, but some are out of your control. The best plan is to catch it early. Lifestyle and hereditary factors include:

  • Smoking (leading risk factor)
  • Alcohol use
  • Poor nutrition
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
  • Previous radiation to the chest/lungs/mouth/nose/throat
  • Personal history of head and neck cancer
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Workplace exposures
  • Family history of head and neck cancer
  • Gender/Age/Race/Where you live

Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer Include:

  • Hoarseness or voice changes
  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Ear pain – one or both
  • Hearing loss/ringing in ears/fullness felling in the ear
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Trouble breathing/talking
  • Weight loss
  • A lump or mass in the neck (because the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes)
  • A lump or swelling in your mouth, cheek, or jaw
  • Pain in your mouth, cheek, or jaw that does not go away
  • A difference between the size and/or shape of the left and right sides of your face or neck
  • Numbness in part of your face
  • Weakness of the muscles on one side of your face
  • Trouble opening your mouth widely
  • Fluid draining from an ear
  • Nasal congestion and stuffiness that doesn’t get better or even worsens
  • Pain above or below the eyes
  • Blockage of one side of the nose
  • Post-nasal drip (nasal drainage in the back of the nose and throat)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Pus draining from the nose
  • Problems with your sense of smell
  • Loosening or numbness of teeth
  • A lump or mass on the face, palate (top of the mouth), or inside the nose
  • Constant watery eyes
  • Bulging of one eye
  • Loss or change in vision/blurry/double
  • Headaches

Many of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by conditions other than a type of head and neck cancer.

Head and Neck Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

At Cancer Care of North Florida, once cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists may order diagnostic testing and imaging to help determine the stage and extent of the disease. Head and neck cancer treatment depends on the extent of the cancer within your body. At Cancer Care of North Florida, we use the most advanced therapies available to treat bladder cancer. An individualized plan of care may include multiple types of treatments.

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Indirect laryngoscopy
  • Direct flexible and rigid laryngoscopy
  • Pan endoscopy
  • Biopsy and molecular assessment
  • Blood tests for tumor markers
  • Chest x-ray
  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • PET imaging
  • Bone scan
  • Barium swallow
  • Dental exam
  • Hearing exam

Depending on the type and stage (severity) of the head and neck cancer, the following treatments may be necessary. Types of surgery for head and neck cancer include the following. Surgery for these various types of cancer is largely dependent upon the location of the tumor.

  • Endoscopic surgery (laser or vocal cord stripping)
  • Laryngectomy (removal of part or all of larynx or voice box)
  • Pharyngectomy (removal of part or all of pharynx or throat)
  • Thyroidectomy (removal of thyroid gland)
  • Glossectomy (removal of the tongue)
  • Mandibulectomy (removal of the jawbone)
  • Maxillectomy (removal of part or all of the hard palate bone)
  • Trans-oral robotic surgery (TORS)
  • Salivary gland removal
  • Neck dissection (removal of lymph node and nearby tissue)

Other forms of non-surgical interventions for head and neck cancer include:

Radiation – Any remaining cancer cells left after surgery are destroyed with high-energy radiation beams. For some head and neck cancer, treating with chemotherapy at the same time can make radiation therapy work better. It is possible to receive radiation therapy before, during or after surgical intervention. Also, when surgery is not possible, radiation can be used to help slow the growth of the tumor. We work closely with Cancer Care of North Florida Radiation Oncology located on campus.
Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy (chemo) are anti-cancer drugs that may be given intravenously (injected into your vein) or by mouth. The drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells in most parts of the body. Chemotherapy can sometimes be given before, during or after surgery. At Cancer Care of North Florida, our team provide extensive education and supportive care through your therapy.
Targeted Treatments – Targeted drugs work differently from chemo drugs. They sometimes work when chemo drugs don’t, and they often have different side effects. They can be used either along with chemotherapy or by themselves if chemotherapy is no longer working. Targeted treatment options are determined by further genetic testing of the tumor cells. This type of testing is usually done on the biopsied tissue of the tumor cells.
Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to help a person’s own immune system better recognize and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy can be used to treat some people with advanced head and neck cancer.

Why Choose Us?

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with head and neck cancer, it is crucial to work with a team of cancer experts who not only have extensive experience, but also a strong track record for achieving the best possible outcome for their patients. While this type of cancer is treatable, the dedicated team Cancer Care of North Florida will initially stage and treat this form of cancer and monitor and treat cancer recurrence or complications that may occur later.

At Cancer Care of North Florida, our physicians are highly specialized in treating multiple types of cancer with the most advanced techniques. Using a team approach, we strive for excellence. We work with each patient to specifically tailor their treatment to their own clinical situation. One of the common diseases that we treat is head and neck cancer.

  • Highly trained, collaborative oncology specialists all currently taking new patients
  • Consultation appointments scheduled within 3-5 days of referral and in some cases same-day appointments available
  • One-stop campus for comprehensive diagnositics and treatment for many types of cancer including radiation, chemotherapy infusion, lab draws and imaging services
  • Onsite infusion center offers comfortable, home-like setting
  • In-office lab testing
  • In-office medication dispensary
  • Open, immediate access to outpatient symptom management
  • 24-hour physician coverage
  • COPI-certified clinical trials
  • We accept most insurance plans including Medicare, Medicaid, and VA