Cancer of the head and neck is often curable if caught early. Fortunately, many of these cancers produce early symptoms. Being aware of the warning signs will allow you to alert your provider immediately.
Indications of head and neck cancer are persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing and a bump or enlargement in the neck. If you experience any of these indications, it’s important not to ignore them. Other signs to watch for are ongoing hoarseness or voice changes, sudden weight loss and constant stuffy nose.
Although these symptoms don't always mean cancer, getting them checked is essential to rule out any problems. Remember, early detection is critical when treating head and neck cancer. Schedule a thorough evaluation with an ear, nose and throat provider to address any concerns you may have.
Diagnostic Testing & Imaging
If your ENT provider suspects head and neck cancer, they may recommend further tests such as a biopsy or imaging scans. These tests can help determine the presence and extent of the cancer, allowing for a more accurate diagnosis.
Treatment options for head and neck cancer vary depending on the stage and location of the cancer. They may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these approaches. Your care team will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that suits your specific needs. At times, we refer to providers within other health groups to address the unique needs of complex cases.
- Blood tests of thyroid function
- Chest X-ray
- CT or MRI scan
- Fine needle aspiration biopsy
- Radioactive thyroid scan
- Surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid gland
- Ultrasound examination of your neck and thyroid
While a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, it’s important to remember that many support systems are available to help you through this journey. Reach out to your healthcare team, friends and family for support. Additionally, numerous organizations and support groups can provide valuable resources and guidance.
Awareness of the warning signs and seeking prompt medical attention can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment. Stay proactive about your health and remember you are not alone in this fight.
Thyroid Nodules and Cancer
Diseases of the thyroid glands are common, affecting millions of Americans. The thyroid gland can enlarge due to over-activity from Graves’ disease or under-activity from hypothyroidism. Patients may develop lumps (cysts or nodules) in their thyroid glands, which are usually benign yet should be evaluated by a doctor who will examine your neck to feel the thyroid and any mass in it.