Head and Neck Cancer Prognosis

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Head and neck cancer comprises the cancers of the salivary glands, mouth, pharynx, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, larynx- the voice-box and lymph nodes that are present in the upper portion of the neck. One must note that eye cancer, skin cancer, scalp cancer, brain cancer and the cancer of the bones present in the region of the face are not classified as head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancer prognosis is essential in the research and knowing its effects on other body parts.

Head and neck cancer prognosis:

Cure of head and neck cancer is inversely proportional to the size of tumor i.e. if the size of tumor is large, then the chances of the cure or probability of cure reduces or lessens and vice-versa. It also depends on how far the cancer has spread. The further the cancer has spread to other body parts, the more complex the treatment is. Hence, it is always advised that when symptoms of head and neck cancer arise, one must consult to their doctor as early as possible. It will help in avoiding and preventing metastasis.

We will see the effects on the other body systems:

  1. Digestive system:

    Radiation therapy which is one of the primary cancer treatments has several side-effects of which vomiting and nausea are few to be mentioned. Frequent vomiting causes imbalance of electrolytes in the body which can prove hazardous to the functioning of heart. It also disturbs the acid present in the stomach and cause harm to the epithelial lining of the stomach and esophagus.

  2. Respiratory system:

    In case of respiratory system, air spaces behind the nose and mouth get blocked due to lumps or swollen sores. If the cancer is in the lower part of throat, then it can spread to the lungs and cause discomfort in breathing. The risk is higher in patients who smoke.

  3. Gastroesophageal reflux disease:

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease happens when stomach acid comes up to the esophagus, damaging its mucosal lining. This occurs mostly because of repetitive vomiting.

  4. Xerostomia:

    Xerostomia is defined as dryness of mouth due to lack of saliva. Several treatments and medications are responsible for xerostomia.

  5. Mucositis:

    Mucositis is a term used to define ulceration and inflammation of mucous membranes present in the digestive tract. It is one of the major side-effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Hence, before undergoing any of radiation or chemotherapy procedures, ask your doctor about its side-effects.

  6. Some people even after successful therapy face some significant functional deficits.

  7. Metastasis i.e. spread of cancerous cells from one body part to the other part is always a risk. Even if the tumor has been operated successfully, there is always a chance that it may develop again.

  8. Secondary primary tumors still remain threat for life even after effective cancer treatment.

  9. Operating on oral cancer can cause difficulties in eating or chewing of food. Due to late detection of cancer, 35% to 50% of head and neck cancer patients have five years to survive. It is also predicted that minimum or at least one-third of all the patients will die due to head and neck cancer. This five year head and neck cancer survival rate of after cancer diagnosis has not been improved since a decade i.e. the period of ten years, even medical science and technology has advanced considerably over the last decade. The mortality rate for head and neck cancer is same as that of cervical cancer or malignant melanoma. Thus, head and neck cancer prognosis helps in knowing the statistics related to the survival rate and life expectancy (life expectancy of head and neck cancer). One must note that early detection of cancer will go a long way to refrain it from being fatal.

Take care!

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