Head And Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer forms in or around the head and neck region, including the nose, throat, larynx, mouth, and sinuses. It is a serious condition that can also impact the nearby critical organs.Head and neck cancer is a primary cancer that affects people across geographies. But with development in research and technologies, the survival rate has continuously improved over the past few years.

Head And Neck Cancer Overview

Head and neck cancer treatments depend on factors like the tumor’s type, size, and location. The symptoms also vary in each person and depend on external factors like the tumor’s location.

Furthermore, the recovery phase from the treatment is as critical as the treatment itself. It might involve interactions with rehabilitation specialists and other experts who will help in guiding the journey. Head and neck cancer prognosis and recovery is a process with multiple aspects. Therefore, one must ensure they have the proper support mechanism to guide them through this process.

Why APCC Oncologist for Head and Neck Cancer?

Head and neck cancer treatments require dedicated care from experts. At APCC, the multidisciplinary tumor board is trained and has experience in various head and neck cancer disciplines. Moreover, today’s treatment requires the latest cutting-edge technology, and APCC has all the state-of-the-art equipment to facilitate the same.

Head and neck cancer can be complex, and at APCC, personalized and comprehensive care through a multidisciplinary approach helps Get the best treatment. Furthermore, the focus is on the treatment and providing the best quality of life.

Types Of Head and Neck Cancer

The different types of head and neck cancer are as follows:

  • Oral cancer starts developing near the mouth region of a patient, including lips, tongue, gums, the lining of cheeps, or behind wisdom teeth.
  • Laryngeal cancer is cancer that starts in the voice box or the larynx.
  • Oropharyngeal cancer starts in the throat’s middle part, also known as the oropharynx. Throat cancer is the most prevalent type of oropharyngeal cancer.
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the upper part of the thread or the nasopharynx.
  • Salivary gland cancer starts in the salivary glands responsible for producing saliva.
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer starts developing in the bottom of the throat or the hypopharynx.
  • Nasal cavity and sinus cancer occur when cancer starts developing in the hollow areas in the nose or the spaces of the bones around the nose.

Stages Of Head and Neck Cancer

There are four stages of head and neck cancer, depending on the location and size.

  • Stage 0 refers to the first stage of head and neck cancer and includes cancer that is only growing in the part where it started. There are no cancerous cells in the deeper layers, and it has yet to spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage I is when the tumor is smaller than 2 cm and is yet to affect the nearby healthy cells and tissues.
  • Stage II is when the neck and the head tumor has a size between 2-4 cm and is yet to affect the nearby healthy tissues, nodes, or organs.
  • Stage III is divided into two categories. In the first category, the tumor is more significant than 4 cm but hasn’t affected the nearby regions or tissues. If cancer has not grown to nearby structures but is impacting one lymph node present on the same side, it falls under stage II.

Symptoms Of Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer symptoms can vary from person to person, depending on the tumor’s location and size. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • A mass or lump in the neck
  • Painful sore in mouth or throat doesn’t heal
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Change in the hoarseness of the voice or difficulty while swallowing food
  • White or red patch in the tongue, gums, or lining of the mouth
  • Trouble hearing or pain in the ear
  • Difficulty in breathing or speaking
  • Issues with the sinus that stay blocked

Causes Of Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer is highly prevalent among men with age over 50. While there are no direct causes of head and neck cancer, there are some risk factors that one can avoid.

  • Excessive usage of tobacco is a common cause of head and neck cancer. The most common site of head and neck cancer is the mouth; the primary reason is excessive tobacco consumption.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of having head and neck cancer.
  • HPV infection, or human papillomavirus, associated with neck and head cancer, is rising.
  • A weak immune system makes it difficult for the body to fight against cancer.
  • People with HIV or who have undergone significant surgeries have higher chances of having the disease.
  • Excessive exposure to chemical substances or radiation can also result in cancer.
  • Genes or family history of head and neck cancer also increases the chances significantly.
  • Poor dental hygiene and excessive consumption of salts are other risk factors.

Treatment Of Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer treatments depend on factors like the patient’s age and condition, type and stage of cancer, and others. Generally, the healthcare team will provide the details of treatment after diagnosis.

  • Head and neck cancer surgery is a prominent option that can help remove the tumor. The surgeons can also remove nearby nodes that are affected by cancer. Head and neck surgery requires time for preparation and is one of the most common treatment methods to remove cancer. Advancements in robotic surgery have made treatment better and more effective.
  • Head and neck cancer radiation therapy is another common form of radiation method that head and neck surgical oncology teams use to treat cancer.
  • Chemotherapy involves the usage of drugs to kill cancerous cells.
  • Targeted therapy helps target specific types of cancer and has a better efficacy rate.
  • Immunotherapy uses the patient’s immune system to fight against cancer.

Proton Therapy and Its Benefits for Head and Neck Cancer Treatment

Proton therapy uses high-energy proton beams to deliver radiation to cancerous cells. It is a type of radiation therapy that uses proton beams to destroy cancerous cells and stop them from growing and dividing further. Depending upon the cancer stage, it can be used as a standalone treatment method or in combination with other traditional methods like chemotherapy.

The benefits of proton therapy for head and neck cancer are:

  • Lower risk of impact on other vital structures: Proton therapy can be highly effective in complicated head and neck tumors. It minimizes radiation on nearby vital structures, including the eyes, brain, mouth, etc.
  • Vital physical functions stay untouched: The therapy ensures that vital physical functions, including smell, vision, taste, and others, stay virtually untouched during the treatment.
  • Precision: Another significant benefit of this therapy is the proton beam's precision which helps remove complicated tumors while controlling the radiation dose
  • Personalized and multi-disciplinary approach: The proton team works well with other treatment methods. And the cancer care team at APCC works on every case individually while creating a personalized plan suited best for that particular case.

The cancer care team at APCC considers the various factors while working on the best suitable approach for the patient.

How Can Head and Neck Cancer Patients Prepare for The Proton Therapy Treatment?

Proton therapy requires planning so that the dose of radiation and the impact is correct. Below are some things the patient can do to prepare for proton therapy.

  • The treatment preparation starts with the simulation of the same therapy session so that the patient is comfortable during the treatment.
  • The patient might also undergo MRI or CT scans for virtual tumor reconstruction.
  • It is essential to understand the entire treatment process before the treatment starts. The oncology and care team will be able to provide necessary details about required sessions and expectations during every session.
  • Head and neck cancer treatment can have some side effects, including nausea. It is critical to discuss the potential side effects and treatments before the treatment.
  • Before the treatment, the care team provides a plan that might include medications, tests, and appointments; the patient must follow the plan.
  • Focus on the body while consuming a healthy diet and exercising frequently to make your body strong for the treatment.
  • Discuss and ask for help wherever required. If there is a requirement for transportation, childcare, or other tasks, it is always advisable to ask them before the treatment. APCC has excellent resources that can help patients and families during treatment.

Which Head and Neck Cancer Patients Benefit the Most From Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy is particularly beneficial for head and neck cancer as there are major structures like the oral cavity, salivary glands, pharyngeal mucosa, brain tissue, larynx, and spinal cord close to the tumor.

It can be an excellent treatment option for patients with cancer that has not spread to distant sites. Moreover, it can be an excellent option for cases where surgery is not possible. It is critical to note that the treatment decision depends on individual cases and can only be determined by the cancer specialists. They consider factors like cancer stage, location, patient’s health, and others before finalizing the treatment plan.

To understand more about proton therapy for head and neck cancer patients, it is advisable to connect with the cancer care team and understand the risks and benefits.

Duration of Proton Therapy in Head and Neck Cancer?

The duration of proton therapy for head and neck cancer can depend on multiple factors like the stage of cancer, location, patient’s health, and the objective of the treatment. On average, depending on the patient's condition, the proton therapy is given in daily sessions for 3 to 5 days per week. The sessions are delivered for 4-7 weeks. Each session can last between 15-30 minutes. The duration can also be shorter depending on the stage of cancer.

The cancer care team can use other treatment methods like chemotherapy or surgery and proton therapy. It is advisable to connect with the cancer care team to get the exact treatment plan and the expected duration.

How Is Head and Neck Cancer Diagnosed?

Early detection is the key to restorative treatment. The head and neck oncology team performs multiple examinations and tests on the patient to understand cancer and provide the prognosis. Diagnosing head and neck cancer can include a physical exam, endoscopy, imaging tests, X-rays, PET CT scans, and MRIs. The oncologist can also recommend a biopsy or blood test for proper diagnosis.

Prevention Of Head and Neck Cancer

There are a few steps that head and neck surgical oncology teams suggest to protect people from head and neck cancer.

  • Quit consuming tobacco and reduce excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Getting an HPV vaccine can protect you from HPV and thus can reduce the risk of cancer significantly
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a proper dental hygiene
  • Lastly, one should always consult a doctor as soon as one comes across any changes in the body






















FAQs Related to Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer is a type of cancer that affects the head or neck region. Any cancerous cell development in the lips, mouth, nasal cavity, throat, sinuses, larynx, or salivary gland is called head and neck cancer.

Some common symptoms of head and neck cancer are a lump in the head or neck region, sore throat or mouth, difficulty swallowing, hearing, speaking, or breathing issues, and others.

Some common risk factors that can lead to head and neck cancer are excessive usage of tobacco or alcohol, HPV, HIV, family history or genetic inheritance, exposure to harmful radiation, etc,

Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy that uses intense proton beams to target the cancerous cells and destroy them, so they do not divide and grow further.

The cancer care team can use proton therapy in many ways depending on the current stage of cancer and the patient’s condition. They can use it as the only treatment method or combine it with chemotherapy, surgery, or other treatment methods. Once the plan is ready, the proton therapy sessions will last for 4-6 weeks with 15-30-minute sessions 5 days a week.

While there is no concrete evidence today proving that proton therapy is more effective, several studies suggest the same. Moreover, there are many research in progress to determine the relative effectiveness of the proton therapy for head and neck cancer as compared to other therapies.

Yes, head and neck cancer is curable, but the chances are best if the detection is early. Small tumors that are of earlier stages are also comparatively curable. Many factors, including cancer type, patient’s age, health condition, and response to treatment, can impact the chances of cure.

When visiting the healthcare provider, it is critical to get an answer to some questions.

  • What is the type of cancer?
  • What is the stage of cancer?
  • Who will be part of the cancer care team?
  • What are the best treatments for cancer?
  • What will be the side effects of the treatment?
  • What is the road to recovery after the treatment?

Some radiation therapy side effects on head and neck cancer patients are unavoidable. When someone undergoes head and neck cancer radiation therapy, there are chances of some impact on the nearby tissues and cells, resulting in some side effects. But the majority of the side effects last for a few months. Moreover, the doctors usually give details about the side effects before the treatment.