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Head and Neck Cancer Surgery in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL

Head and neck cancers account for 3% to 5% of all cancer diagnoses each year with 50,000 new cases annually. Several different diseases of the mouth, nose, throat and surrounding areas are classified as head and neck cancers. Effective head and neck cancer surgery requires the expertise of the board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons of Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists, serving the Tampa, Spring Hill and surrounding communities in Florida.

Types of Head and Neck Cancers

Even if you follow an active and healthy lifestyle, you may be at risk for developing head and neck cancer. Many types of cancers can affect areas in and surrounding the head and neck. In many cases, the cellular changes that lead to these cancers start in the mucosal surfaces such as the mouth, the nose, or the throat. The cells in these areas are known as squamous cells and are often the starting point for many carcinomas. Some of the areas that are affected by head and neck cancers include:

  • Larynx
  • Pharynx
  • Oral cavity
  • Nasal cavity
  • Salivary glands
  • Lymph nodes

As with cancers that start in other areas of the body, cancers in the head and neck can spread and lead to serious and life-threatening complications. The overall outlook for patients who have cancers in these areas of the body is best for those who receive thorough and prompt treatment for cancers that are caught early.

Types of Head and Neck Cancers Treated

Causes of Head and Neck Cancer

A vast percentage of head and neck cancers are caused by the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, and this is especially true of larynx and oral cavity cancers. Some 85% of cancers of the head and neck are related directly to tobacco use. What’s more, exposure to UVA and UVB from the sun, HPV (human papilloma virus), and radiation can also lead to these cancers.

The good news is that lifestyle changes can eliminate many of these factors. Avoiding alcohol, quitting smoking, and giving up smokeless tobacco can greatly reduce the risk of developing these types of cancers. Anyone who has these risk factors should be screened for head and neck cancer regularly so that any potential problems can be caught early on. The earlier the cancer is found, the more effective the treatment.

Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer

The symptoms of head and neck cancer are generally easy to detect, which means that people who seek medical treatment for their symptoms have a chance at being diagnosed early. Of course, the actual symptoms that are experienced will depend primarily on the exact cancer type, but they can include:

  • Changes in the voice, including hoarseness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • New or changing growths on the skin or in the mouth
  • One or more lumps in the neck
  • Blood in the saliva
  • Earaches

Of course, it should be noted that any number of conditions can cause these symptoms and that they are not always indicative of cancer. Patients who experience these symptoms should seek prompt medical care.

Diagnosing Head and Neck Cancer

Patients who experience any of the aforementioned symptoms may be required to undergo a procedure known as an endoscopy (where the mouth and throat are viewed up-close through a camera), blood and urine tests, and a physical examination. If a mass is detected, or even if cancer is suspected, a biopsy may be performed in order to view the affected cells in a laboratory.

If a cancer diagnosis is made, physicians will next work to determine how far the cancer has progressed and whether it has spread anywhere else in the body. To do this, physicians use a variety of imaging procedures including x-ray, MRI, and CAT scan. These scans will help physicians determine the best course of treatment for their patients based upon their individual needs.

Treatment of Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers can be treated in a variety of ways, and the treatment that is chosen is based on factors such as the patient’s overall health, as well as the size and the location of the cancer. Oftentimes, the first step is surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible. The surgeon also removes all of the suspected cancerous areas as well as some of the healthy areas around the tissue to ensure eradication. Next, patients may be candidates for chemotherapy, during which a targeted medication kills off cancer cells through repeated administration over a set period of time. Finally, during radiation therapy, physicians use highly-concentrated x-rays to destroy cancer cells at their source. Individual treatment plans will vary.

Patients who have been diagnosed with head and neck cancer should discuss all of the various treatment options with their doctors as the treatments used to eradicate the cancer can have a tremendous effect on the way individuals look, eat, speak, or even breathe. By making important life changes now, such as avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking, individuals can prevent their cancers from coming back and mitigate the risks associated with developing other diseases, as well.

Head and neck cancer frightens many of our patients, but with our board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons on your side, you feel confident about your prognosis. Contact our Tampa or Spring Hill office today to schedule a consultation.