Risk Factors for Head & Neck Cancer
An estimated 85 percent of head and neck cancers, especially of the oral
cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx and larynx, are linked to cigarette smoking
and chewing tobacco. Additional risk factors include alcohol consumption,
sun exposure, radiation, inhalation of asbestos or wood or nickel dust,
and poor oral hygiene.
HPV-related Head & Neck Cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most commonly diagnosed sexually
transmitted disease in the U.S. and is one of the highest risk factors
for oral oropharyngeal cancers, particularly in the upper throat and base
of tongue. It is therefore recommended that individuals speak with their
physician about the benefits of the HPV vaccination for prevention of
HPV related malignancies.
Diagnosing Head & Neck Cancer
Diagnosing head and neck cancer in its earliest stages can help your treatment
to be more successful. Our expert team is highly skilled in diagnosing
and staging head and neck tumors using the latest in state-of-the-art
imaging studies, and other specialized tests, including office-based endoscopy.
Upon analysis of test results, Hoag’s multidisciplinary team develops
a personalized treatment plan that addresses all facets of care.
Endoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that utilizes an endoscope
(a thin, tube-like device equipped with a camera) to enable physicians
to view various areas inside the body. An anesthetic spray is often used
to make the examination more comfortable. This examination is called a
nasopharyngoscopy, pharyngoscopy, or laryngoscopy, depending on which
area is examined. If your physician suspects the presence of head and
neck cancer, a more thorough exam called a panendoscopy will be performed.
Indirect Pharyngoscopy and Laryngoscopy
A pharyngoscopy and laryngoscopy uses small mirrors at the back of the
mouth to clearly examine the throat, base of the tongue and part of the
larynx to check for any signs of head and neck cancer. As with endoscopy,
an anesthetic spray is often used to make the examination more comfortable.
Hoag also provides the latest in state-of-the-art imaging to help physicians
diagnose head and neck cancers. Several imaging procedures may be utilized such as:
Computed tomography (CT): A CT scan can provide information about the size, shape and position of
any tumors, and may also help identify enlarged lymph nodes that may contain
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI scan may be used to examine head and neck cancer.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: For patients who have received a head and neck cancer diagnosis, a PET
scan may be useful in determining the originating site of cancer, and
if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and/or other areas in the body.
Positron emission tomography/magnetic resonance (PET/MR) scan: A hybrid imaging technique that combines PET imaging with MR imaging.
If a suspicious area is noted, your physician may perform a biopsy, which
is the removal of a small piece of tissue with either a scalpel or a needle.
This tissue sample is carefully examined under a microscope to determine
whether cells are benign or malignant.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment with a Hoag Head &
Neck Cancer Program physician, please call 877-432-4531.