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Squamous Cell Head and Neck Cancer
Most cancers known as “head and neck cancers” are squamous cell carcinomas. This is a type of cancer that begins in squamous cells that make up the moist inner linings of some parts of the head and neck, including the oral cavity, salivary glands, throat, voice box, paranasal sinuses, and nasal cavity. When these cancers spread, they usually spread locally or to the lymph nodes in the neck. Sometimes cancerous squamous cells may be found in the lymph nodes with no evidence of cancer in other parts of the head and neck.
Signs and symptoms vary depending on the location of the cancer, but often include:
- A lump or pain in the neck or throat
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth
- A growth or swelling of the jaw
- Unusual pain or bleeding in the mouth
- Pain when swallowing
- Ear pain, ringing in the ears, or trouble hearing
- Chronic sinus infections that do not respond to antibiotics
To diagnose metastatic squamous neck cancer and the primary tumor, your doctor may use tests that examine tissues of the neck, respiratory tract, and upper part of the digestive tract.
There are two standard types of treatment used to treat squamous cell head and neck cancer:
- Surgery: Your physician may recommend surgery to remove lymph nodes and other affected tissues in the neck.
- Radiation therapy: Some patients may be given radiation therapy to treat any cancer cells left after surgery. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to target cancer cells.
Chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies may also be used depending on the cancer and the patient.