• Head and neck cancer diagnosis

Head and neck cancer diagnosis

Head and neck cancer is a severe condition affecting various parts of the head and neck, such as the mouth, throat, larynx, sinuses, and salivary glands. HNC is a prevalent cancer in India, accounting for 30% of all cancer cases. It is primarily due to the widespread use of tobacco throughout the country.

At Apollo Proton Cancer Center, we are committed to providing the most advanced diagnostic and treatment options for head and neck cancer patients.

We understand the importance of early detection and timely head and neck cancer treatment. That's why we encourage everyone to undergo regular checkups and screenings, especially if they have a history of tobacco or alcohol use or have been exposed to HPV.

We offer a range of treatment options, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and proton therapy, depending on the type and stage of cancer.

We aim to provide the most effective treatment with negligible impact on the patient's quality of life.

How head and neck cancer is diagnosed

It is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer, which include:

  • A lump or sore that does not heal
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in voice
  • Persistent hoarseness or sore throat
  • Pain or discomfort in the mouth or throat
  • Swelling in the neck

If you experience any of these symptoms, seeing a doctor as soon as possible is essential. Your doctor may perform a physical exam to check for lumps or abnormalities in the head and neck region.

Doctors may prescribe imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI to get a better view of the area if an abnormality is found. These tests use radiation and magnetic fields to create detailed images of the inside of the body.

Once a head and neck cancer diagnosis is confirmed, doctors will discuss the treatment options. Treatment options for head and neck cancer may include:

  • Surgery: Doctors will remove the affected tissue or organ to eliminate cancer. Reconstruction surgery may sometimes be necessary to restore function or appearance.
  • Radiation therapy: Doctors may use high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells in the affected area. It may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.
  • Chemotherapy: Powerful drugs may kill cancer cells throughout the body. It may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.
  • Targeted therapy: Drugs may target specific proteins or molecules involved in cancer cell growth and spread

The type and stage of head and neck cancer will determine the best course of treatment. Your doctor will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan considering your needs and preferences.

In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes can help manage head and neck cancer. These may include:

  • Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol
  • Getting regular exercise and staying active
  • Managing stress and getting enough rest

Tests used to diagnose head and neck cancer

Like other forms of cancer, early detection is critical to improving the chances of successful treatment. Let us discuss the different tests used to diagnose head and neck cancer.

Physical examination/blood and urine tests

A physical examination is typically the first step in diagnosing head and neck cancer. Your doctor will examine your head and neck for lumps, bumps, or other abnormalities during this exam. They may also use their hands to feel the inside of your mouth, throat, and nose.

In addition to a physical exam, blood and urine tests can help detect signs of head and neck cancer. These tests can detect elevated levels of specific proteins or enzymes in the body that may indicate the presence of cancer.


Endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your doctor to examine the inside of your head and neck using a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached. During this procedure, your doctor will insert the endoscope through your nose or mouth and into your throat. The camera on the end of the tube will transmit images to a monitor, allowing your doctor to see any abnormalities.

Endoscopy is a valuable tool for diagnosing head and neck cancer because it allows your doctor to see the affected area up close. Sometimes, your doctor may also use endoscopy to take a biopsy.


A biopsy is a procedure in which your doctor removes a small tissue sample from the affected area to examine under a microscope. Several types of biopsies may be used to diagnose head and neck cancer, including:

  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy involves using a thin needle to remove a small tissue sample from a lump or suspicious area. Doctors typically use FNA for tumours that can be felt outside the body.
  • A core needle biopsy involves using a slightly larger needle to remove a small tissue core from a suspicious area. Doctors use this type of biopsy for deeper tumours inside the body.

X-ray/barium swallow

X-ray and barium swallow tests are imaging tests that can help your doctor diagnose head and neck cancer. X-rays use radiation to create images of the inside of your body. Barium swallow tests involve swallowing a liquid containing barium, which helps the affected area appear more clearly on X-ray images.

These tests can help your doctor see any abnormalities in your head and neck, such as tumours or other growths. They may also check whether the cancer has spread to other body parts.

Conclusion of head and neck cancer diagnosis

Apollo Proton Cancer Centre's multi-disciplinary approach to head and neck cancer diagnosis is top-notch, with advanced technologies and highly trained medical personnel working together to provide an accurate and timely diagnosis.

Furthermore, the centre's team of doctors collaborates with other healthcare professionals, such as radiation oncologists and speech therapists, to provide comprehensive care to patients. The centre also offers personalized treatment plans tailored to individual patient needs.

At Apollo Proton Cancer Centre, we are committed to providing our patients with the highest quality care and support throughout their cancer journey.