Symptoms and treatment for head and neck cancer
Cancer – the most dreaded word in the 21st century. It was always there, dating back to centuries, but it has become a villain that frequents every nation today. It visits the youngest of children and the oldest of people. No barrier can stop cancer. Let us hope we aren’t too late reading this article. Cancer can indeed be treated and taken care of if it is in the earliest of stages.
There is a wrongly held notion that cancer is contagious. If you were to see a cancer patient wearing a wig to hide their baldness, that is not because they fear condemnation. It is because they fear being neglected. Cancer as a disease is perceived in lots of ways, and only the ones that have access to instant knowledge have got a clue what it is all about.
The head and neck cancers usually begin with the outgrowth of cells that line the mucous glands. This may include the squamous cells, along with the salivary cells, although cancers that involve salivary cells aren’t prevalent.
To learn about the head and neck cancer treatment, we need to learn about its symptoms and signs which would confirm the illness, so that we finally get to decide on the ideal head and neck cancer treatment option.
Symptoms and signs of head and neck cancer
Not every symptom may be a sign of head and neck cancer, and it differs from patient to patient. Researchers have arrived at the following conclusions on the basis of a general understanding of what may or may not indicate cancer.
- Blisters that refuse to heal
- Red or white unexplained patch in the mouth
- Lumps or bumps in the head or neck region that may or may not pain
- An unrelenting sore throat
- Stinking mouth not explained by hygiene
- Change in voice
- Nasal block or unrelenting nasal blockage
- Frequent nosebleeds/ frequent nasal discharge
- Difficulty in breathing
- Double vision
- Jaw pain
- Slackening of teeth
- Ear pain or infection
- Pain or difficulty chomping, swallowing or moving the jaws
- Drops of blood in the saliva or phlegm
- Laser Technology: An early-stage tumor, mainly if it was found in the larynx, can be treated by this method.
- Excision: Through this surgery, the cancerous cells and surrounding tissues are removed so that it won’t spread and cause cancer in future.
- Lymph Node Dissection or Neck Dissection: If the doctor infers that cancer may have already spread, he might remove the lymph nodes in the neck. This may also be conducted right after excision.
- Reconstructive Surgery: If a cancer surgery involves significant tissue removal thereby affecting the appearance of the patient, through reconstructive/ plastic surgery, it is possible to restore the previous appearance.
Radiation therapy is the process of making use of high-energy x-rays or other particles, like alpha and beta to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy is usually carried out in a number of steps through multiple consultations and treatments. This method can also be conducted right after surgery to remove those cells that can’t be removed surgically.
Through chemotherapy, the drugs are meant to destroy the cancer cells, by ending the cancer cells’ capability to grow and divide. Chemotherapy is usually done by affixing an IV tube into a vein, or it can be done by injecting a pill or capsule that is orally swallowed. Chemotherapy is declared completed after the completion of a specific number of cycles which is given over a set period of time. The side effects of chemotherapy comprise of fatigue, risk of infection, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. These side effects usually go away once the head and neck cancer treatment comes to an end.
This is a kind of head and neck cancer treatment where specific genes or proteins are targeted. All tumors may not share the same targets, and so the concerned doctor may run various tests to gain insight as to identify these targets. This would ensure that the patient gets effective treatment. For head and neck cancers, a tumor protein called epidermal growth factor receptor is mostly targeted. This would stop or slow the growth of the cancer cells.
Prevention is always better than getting head and neck cancer treatment. So, if you have an inkling of doubt, try your level best to get some diagnostic tests run as soon as possible. Contact your family doctor and proceed accordingly. Make sure the information you’ve got in your hands is credible. Let’s hope that the fate is in our favor and that we do recover.