Neck Cancer Symptoms
Neck connects the head to the rest of the body. Neck cancer refers to a group of biologically similar cancers originating from the upper aerodigestive tract including mouth, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx, and larynx. When any of the organs become cancerous it is termed broadly as neck cancer.
The neck cancer symptoms usually depend upon the location of the cancer and the site it arises. For example the symptoms for cancers that begin in vocal cords are different from the symptoms of the cancers that begin in the back of tongue.
The most common type of cancer of neck is squamous cell carcinoma, which arises in the cells that line the inside of the nose, mouth and throat. Other less common types of neck cancers are salivary gland tumors, lymphomas and sarcomas.
Some of the symptoms of neck cancers include:
- Swelling of the glands or lymph nodes in the neck. Initially the swelling might be painless but there can be pain as the cancer advances.
- A lump, ulcer or sore in the mouth and connecting areas of mouth which doesn’t heal even within weeks.
- Pain or difficulty with swallowing or chewing
- Persistent hoarse voice or a change in the voice
- Bad breath
- Slurred speech
- Bleeding in the mouth or throat
- Red and white patches in the mouth that sometimes become sore or bleeds
- Persistent pain or numbness in the throat or part of the face
- Difficulty when breathing or noisy breathing
- Numb feeling in the mouth
- A persistent, blocked nose or sinuses, or nose bleeds
- Swelling around the eyes or double vision
- Pain in the face or upper jaw
- Persistent earache, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), or difficulty in hearing
- Blocked nose or bleeding nose which is persistent
- Pain in the ear, ringing or difficulty in hearing
- A decreased sense of smell
- Extreme weight loss
Facts and Statistics About Neck Cancer Based on Locations:
- Head and neck cancers constitute nearly 3 – 5 percent of all cancers in the United States.
- According to an estimation, there were 35,720 new cases of head and neck cancer last year (2009).
- These cancers are more prevalent in men and target people above the age of 50 years.
- Oral cavity cancer causes 6000 – 7000 deaths alone and south-east asians who have the habit of chewing betal leaf are at increased risk of this cancer.
- Salivary gland cancer forms only 2 percent of all neck cancer types and is considered rare.
- Nasal cavity cancer is also rare and men above the age of 45 years are prone to this cancer than women. There are no symptoms in the initial stages and they become apparent in the later stages which makes treatment difficult.
- Pharynx cancer affects people above the age of 60 years and predominantly it targets men than women. Smokers are 25 times more likely to get this type of neck cancer.
- The Office of Rare Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has listed Larynx cancer as a “rare disease”. A disease is called so in the United States if it affects fewer than 200,000 people in this country.
- 90 percent of the larynx cancer are technically called squamous cell carcinoma.
- However, 12500 new cases of this cancer are diagnosed every year in the U.S.
- After 1992, there has been improvement in the survival rate and quality of life of patients suffering from neck cancer owing to the availability of new diagnostic techniques and targeted therapy.