Head and neck cancer
Head and neck cancer describes cancers that develop in the mouth, throat, sinuses and nose. Head and neck cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. Reconstructive surgery may be necessary to improve function and appearance.
Head and neck cancer treatment in Florida
Symptoms of head and neck cancer aren't always apparent, but a chronic sore throat or difficulty swallowing may indicate something more serious.
If you've recently been diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer, our network of physician practices across the state are here to help you. At HCA Florida Physicians, we understand when it comes to a cancer diagnosis, you want highly specialized doctors to work with you for your treatment.
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Types of head and neck cancer we treat
Because the head and neck is made up of many different structures, our doctors specialize in treating a wide range of head and neck cancers, including cancers of the:
Head and neck cancer treatments we offer
When it comes to head and neck cancer, no two cases are the same. Because of this, our doctors tailor your treatment to fit your unique situation. Your oncologist may suggest one or more of the following as part of your cancer treatment.
Head and neck surgery
If a malignant tumor is found in the head and neck, your oncologist may recommend surgery to remove it. Surgery is most often used when the tumor is operable, meaning it can be removed without causing significant damage to the surrounding structures and tissues.
Radiation therapy is a common type of cancer treatment used to shrink or destroy a tumor. During radiation therapy, beams of energy — or radioactive particles — are aimed directly at the tumor with such precision that only the tumor receives the radiation. This causes less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
In some cases, surgically removing cancerous tissue may alter the appearance of the neck or mouth. If this happens, our reconstructive surgeons specialize in performing procedures to help restore the appearance of the affected areas.
Preventive head and neck cancer care
When it comes to head and neck cancer, there may not be as many options for routine screenings as there are for some other cancers. However, there are still ways to take advantage of preventive care.
Yearly visits to your primary care physician and dentist can be ways for your doctor to detect any potentially abnormal growths or patches they may see in the mouth or throat.
Additionally, knowing what might put you at a higher risk for developing head and neck cancer can help you make informed decisions around certain lifestyle choices.
Risk factors for head and neck cancer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following are risk factors for developing head and neck cancers:
- Alcohol use
- Exposure to toxic substances, including asbestos
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Previous Epstein-Barr infection
- Radiation treatments
- Tobacco use, including cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco
Signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer
Some general symptoms of head and neck cancer can include:
- A lump in the neck, jaw or mouth
- A mouth ulcer that doesn't heal
- Pain or weakness in the face
- Neck pain
- Difficulty moving the jaw
- Difficulty swallowing
- Speech problems
- Ear pain or hearing loss
- Trouble breathing
- Sore throat
- White or red patches in the mouth or throat
- Unintended weight loss
Head and neck cancer specialists
Because it can occur in a few different places in the body, head and neck cancer can often be diagnosed, or initially recognized, by different specialists. Otolaryngologists, or doctors who treat conditions of the ear, nose and throat, can often be the first line of defense when it comes to head and neck cancers.
Once a diagnosis has been made, you will likely be referred to one of our head and neck cancer specialists. These specialists have extensive experience with all types of head and neck cancers and partner with the other cancer specialists and medical professionals in our network to provide comprehensive care.