Head And Neck Cancer

About Head and Neck Cancer in Palmer

Cancers of the head and neck are tumors that begin in the squamous cells that line the moist, membranes inside the head and neck and include cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, salivary glands, and nose/nasal passages. This type of head and neck cancer is called squamous cell cancers. If a cancer is limited to the squamous layer of cells, it is called carcinoma in situ. If the cancer has grown beyond this cell layer and moved into the deeper tissue, then it is called invasive squamous cell carcinoma.

More uncommon are cancers that begin in the salivary glands, of which there are many types, most commonly adenocarcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, or mucoepidermoid carcinoma. The board-certified radiology oncologists at Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center are experienced in treating cancers of the head and neck through the use of the most sophisticated and effective cancer treatments. Specifically, head and neck cancers are broken down into the areas in which they originate.

Other types of cancer, such as brain, esophageal, or thyroid cancers can occur in the head and neck areas, but are treated very differently. Head and neck cancer affects only about three percent of all cancers in the U.S. and 74 percent of those diagnosed are men. The five-year survival rate varies depending on many factors, but the average is 50 percent. Incidents of this type of cancer have been declining steadily.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a type head or neck cancer, your board certified Palmer radiation oncologists will work with your medical team to discuss the array of advanced non-surgical radiation treatment options available to you and the success rates with each type. It is common for head and neck cancer to travel, or metastasize, to other parts of the body. Treatments may consist of one or a combination of the following:

  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Drug therapy

Treatment options for head and neck cancer are usually based on the tumor’s location and stage, and your age and overall health. Your cancer experts at Mat-Su Valley Comprehensive Cancer Center offer several head and neck cancer treatments based on your individual situation.

Head and Neck Cancer Risk Factors

There are two avoidable substances that can significantly increase the risk of developing a head and neck cancer:

  1. Tobacco. Tobacco use is the single largest risk factor for head and neck cancer. Eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use, including smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes; chewing tobacco. The amount of tobacco use may affect your chance of recovery. Secondhand smoke may also increase a person’s risk of developing head and neck cancer.
  1. Alcohol. If you drink heavily and frequently, your risk of developing cancer in the mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus is increased. Using alcohol and tobacco together increases this risk even more.

Other factors that can raise a person’s risk of developing head and neck cancer include:

  • Prolonged sun exposure. This is especially linked to cancer in the lip area, as well as skin cancer of the head and neck.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). Research indicates that infection with this virus is becoming an increasingly common risk factor for some types of head and neck cancer. HPV is most often passed from person to person during sexual activity. There are different types, or strains, of HPV. Some strains are more strongly associated with certain types of cancer. HPV vaccines protect against certain strains of the virus. (See the Latest Research section for more information.)
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Exposure to EBV, which is more commonly known as the virus that causes mononucleosis or “mono,” plays a role in the development of nasopharyngeal cancer.
  • Gender. Men are two to three times more likely than women to develop head and neck cancer. However, the rate of head and neck cancer in women has been rising for several decades.
  • Age. People over the age of 40 are at higher risk for head and neck cancer.
  • Race. Black people are more likely than white people to develop certain types of head and neck cancer.
  • Poor oral and dental hygiene. Poor care of the mouth and teeth has been suggested as a factor that may increase the risk of head and neck cancer.
  • Environmental or occupational inhalants. Exposure to asbestos, wood dust, paint fumes, and certain chemicals may increase a person’s risk of head and neck cancer.
  • Marijuana use. Research suggests that people who have used marijuana may be at higher risk for head and neck cancer.
  • Poor nutrition. A diet low in vitamins A and B can raise a person’s risk of head and neck cancer.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and laryngopharyngeal reflux disease (LPRD). Reflux of stomach acid into the upper airway and throat has been suggested as a factor associated with the development of head and neck cancer.
  • Weakened immune system. A weakened immune system can raise a person’s risk of head and neck cancer.

Use these links to find out more about head and neck cancer:

Call Your Palmer Cancer Center Today!

Find out more about the types of head and neck cancer and their treatment options in Palmer. Give our cancer experts a call today at 907-707-1333 for a free phone consultation. We’re here to answer all of your questions and explain each type of treatment option clearly. We also have a convenient online message form that you can use to ask your questions or request an appointment. One of our cancer care experts will get back to you within 24 hours. We care about you and make it our mission to help you fight cancer with the latest treatments and technologies available. Call today.