Warning Signs of Head and Neck Cancer

Cancer is an insidious disease that can affect any cell in your body, including your head and neck’s many tissue structures. Fortunately, advances in treatment and early diagnosis have a real impact on helping individuals overcome the challenges of cancer.

The expert surgeons at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates of Nevada, in Summerlin and the Eastside area of Las Vegas, Nevada, are highly skilled at accurately diagnosing and providing effective surgical treatment for cancers related to the head and neck.

Our team is also passionate about providing helpful information regarding things you can do to protect your health, such as recognizing the early warning signs of conditions like head and neck cancer.

Head and neck cancer types

Your head and neck contain numerous complex structures, including the:

Any of these areas can develop cancerous lesions and tumors. However, the most common head and neck cancer by far is squamous cell carcinoma.

Squamous cell cancer invades the moist mucosal membranes lining your inner cheeks/lips, oral cavity, nose/sinuses, and throat. Cancers affecting the tonsils, thyroid gland, and salivary glands are also classified as head and neck cancers but are much rarer than squamous cell cancers.

What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer?    

Unfortunately, many early warning signs of head and neck cancer are subtle and hidden from casual observation if they develop within your nasal passages, throat, etc. There are symptoms you can watch for, however, which include:

Many of these symptoms are also related to chronic sinusitis, reactive lymph nodes, or other benign (noncancerous) conditions. 

However, if you develop any concerning signs symptoms, please check in with your specialist since early diagnosis and treatment often results in a positive outcome for head and neck cancers.

Can I prevent head and neck cancer?

Science hasn’t yet developed a vaccine or other regimen that is guaranteed to prevent head and neck cancer. One preventive measure you can take, however, is to schedule routine dental exams. You may associate these exams with tooth and gum health, but a vital part of your exam includes checking for signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer.

Depending on your age, health history, etc., your provider may recommend routine exams every 6-12 months, more frequently if you’re at risk of developing cancer.   

Factors that can increase your risk of developing head and neck cancer include:

Note that tobacco and alcohol use create the most significant risk, and using both together significantly increases your chance of developing head and neck cancer.

For further information about head and neck cancer and how we can help, schedule a visit today at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates of Nevada. 

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