Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
The most common type of head and neck cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (squamous cell cancer). About 9 out of 10 head and neck cancers (90%) start in squamous cells. Squamous cells line the mouth, nose and throat.
The types of squamous cell carcinoma are
- HPV associated squamous cell carcinoma without smoking as a factor
- HPV associated squamous cell carcinoma with smoking as a factor
- Non-HPV associated squamous cell carcinoma without smoking as a factor
Squamous cell carcinoma can occur in various regions of the head and neck, including:
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the throat (oropharyngeal)
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth (oral cavity)
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the voice box (laryngeal)
- Nasopharyngeal (behind the nose) squamous cell carcinoma
- Hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (cancer that develops above the voice box)
Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Head and Neck
Common symptoms for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck include: A persistent sore throat , Pain or difficulty swallowing, Weight loss, Voice changes, Earache, A lump in the throat or mouth, A mass or lump in the neck.
For HPV positive squamous cell carcinoma, individuals will have tonsils that look small, but their lymph nodes will be enlarged. They may have a lump or mass in the neck that is rarely painful.
Those with non-HPV squamous cell carcinoma may experience the opposite. The most common symptom is pain. This could be pain in the throat, mouth or ear, pain swallowing or hoarseness.
Risk factors include: Alcohol use, Diabetes and immunosuppression, Exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, Having precancerous lesions, Radiation exposure, Tobacco use, Wood and nickel work.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck include: Biopsy, Blood tests, Imaging tests including, CT Scan or MRI Nasopharyngolaryngoscopy: A procedure that involves placing a flexible fiberoptic camera through the nose to see the surface of the oropharynx and other structures of the throat, such as, the vocal cords, base of tongue (back of the tongue), the lower part of the tonsils and the lining of the throat.
Firstline treatment for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck is usually Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS). Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used following surgery depending on the diagnosis and stage of cancer.
Transoral Robotic Surgery (TORS) offers a minimally invasive surgical option. The benefit of surgery is to reduce the dose and/or eliminate the need for radiation therapy in the treatment of the cancer. The surgery will involve removal of the tumor, as well as removal of lymph nodes from certain areas of the neck if necessary.
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