Cancers of the head and neck usually begin in cells inside the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat (pharynx) or voice box (larynx). Most of these cancers are squamous cell carcinomas because they begin on the surface of area affected. If they spread into the deeper layers of cells, they are called invasive squamous cell carcinomas. Some less common benign and malignant tumors begin in the salivary glands.
The majority of head and neck cancers are tied to alcohol and tobacco use, but an increasing number also appear to be linked to infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Often, these factors play a role in treatment options and cancer control.
Screening and Treatment
Common symptoms of head and neck cancers often depend on where they start. They may present as physical signs, such as a lump or swelling in the affected area. Symptoms also include mouth or throat pain, ear pain, voice changes, or sore throat. Often, these symptoms may interfere with nutrition by the time of diagnosis.
If cancer is detected, Lowell General Hospital has a multidisciplinary team and clinic dedicated to a coordinated, individualized treatment plan for you. Surgery, radiation oncology, medical oncology speech pathology, and nutrition all work together to design a plan for both cancer treatment and supportive care.
Through close partnerships with Boston-based hospitals and the National Cancer Institute, we are able to offer cancer clinical trials designed to identify safer and more effective approaches to prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of your cancer. Learn more about the current clinical trials available here
Resources and Education
The Cancer Center at Lowell General Hospital is committed to supporting your mental and physical health through every step of diagnosis, treatment and recovery. From dedicated physicians and nurses to social workers and support groups, the Cancer Center at Lowell General Hospital has several resources for you and your family, all close to home. Learn more about our resources to support your care here