Head & Neck Oncology
Head and neck cancer refers to a group of biologically similar cancers that start in the lip, oral cavity (mouth), nasal cavity (inside the nose), paranasal sinuses, pharynx and larynx. Head and neck cancers often spread to the lymph nodes of the neck, and this is often the first (and sometimes only) sign of the disease at the time of diagnosis. Head and neck cancer is strongly associated with certain environmental & lifestyle risk factors, including smoking, alcohol consumption, particular chemicals used in certain workplaces, and certain strains of viruses such as human papillomavirus.
Salivary Gland Tumors
Salivary gland tumors are tumors that arise in tissues of a salivary gland. The salivary glands are classified as major and minor. The major salivary glands consist of the parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands. The minor glands include small mucus-secreting glands located throughout the palate, nasal and oral cavity. The most common symptom of major salivary gland cancer is a painless lump in the affected gland, sometimes accompanied by paralysis of the facial nerve.
The parapharyngeal space is a potential space lateral to the upper pharynx. Both benign and malignant tumors may arise from any of the structures contained within the parapharyngeal space. COmmon symptoms include neck mass, oropharyngeal mass, dysphagia, obstructive sleep apnea, cranial nerve deficits, pain and trismus. Complete surgical excision is the mainstay of treatment and is recommended for both diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
The neck dissection is a surgical procedure for control of neck lymph node metastasis from tumours (most commonly Squamous cell carcinoma) of the head and neck. The aim of the procedure is to remove lymph nodes from one side of the neck into which cancer cells may have migrated. Metastasis of tumours into the lymph nodes of the neck reduce survival and is the most important factor in the spread of the disease. The metastases may originate from tumours of the upper aerodigestive tract, including the oral cavity, tongue, nasopharynx, oropharynx, hypopharynx, larynx, as well as the thyroid, parotid and posterior scalp.
Tumors of the Neck
Neck tumors are abnormal growths of cells located on the neck of an individual. A neck tumor can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors are non-cancerous, while malignant tumors are cancerous. Symptoms of neck tumors are neck lumps and neck pain. Smaller tumors may not cause noticeable lumps or pain and may be more difficult to detect. If swelling or tenderness occurs as a result of an external injury to the neck, it is most likely not a neck tumor. Infections often lead to swollen lymph nodes in the neck or other areas of the body. When swelling and tenderness in the neck is accompanied by other symptoms such as a runny nose or rash, the symptoms most likely are caused by an infection and not a tumor.