The head and neck tumors are the most frequent oral cavity, pharynx and larynx

Written by: Dr. Guillermo López Vivanco
Edited by: Top Doctors®

¿What are tumors of the head and neck


Tumors of the head and neck is a set of malignancies, conventionally grouped, in which tumors upper aerodigestive area, also generally include tumors of the salivary glands and sinus include. Encefalo tumors, thyroid and parathyroid are not covered due to overt clinical differences. Neither are other tumors that may also settle in other areas of the body, such as lymphomas, melanomas and sarcomas. Ultimately are tumors that develop in the lining of the aero - digestive tract comprising the upper oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.

One feature of these tumors is fast affectation of the lymph nodes of the neck, this being sometimes the first symptom that brings the patient to seek medical advice after notice a lump in your neck. This feature is very important because it will influence treatment and prognosis or chance of survival.


¿What are the most frequent


The most common are the oral cavity ( 45 % ) followed by the pharynx ( 25%) and larynx ( 20 % ), the rest clearly lower incidence, although these frequencies vary between populations, as a function of their habits, customs, economic level, etc.. It is important to note that in recent years has seen a significant increase in tumors of the pharynx in young people who neither smoke nor drink, I state in these cases the issue with the VHP ( Human Papillomavirus ) acquired after certain sexual practices.


¿, we locate its causes


The relationship of the tumors of the upper aero- digestive via the snuff and alcohol is known and proven for decades and in fact there is a parallel between the incidence of lung cancer and tumors in this location. So that countries like USA, where the consumption of snuff has fallen drastically since nearly 3 decades, the incidence of these tumors ( lung and head and neck ) has decreased significantly. Alcohol and snuff have synergistic effect in relation to the development of head and neck tumors, because both contain substances capable of causing genetic alterations in the cells after a sufficient accumulation that would give rise to a malignant tumor. Chewing snuff also has the ability to produce tumors in the oral cavity.

Besides the snuff and alcohol as major players in the development of these tumors, some viruses such as the aforementioned HPV and Epstein Barr virus (EBV ), which is related to nasopharyngeal tumors mainly. Other factors also involved, although to a lesser extent by their frequency, are asbestos, certain plant fibers, wood sawdust ( maxillary sinus carcinomas carpenters ), dyes, nickel and also diet, is in relation to some shortcomings.


¿That way you can try


The treatment of these tumors is interdisciplinary, as in practically all the Oncologia, looking at best result for each patient based on their condition, their circumstances and their wishes. It is necessary to mention here the great cosmetic and functional morbidity and cause these treatments often cause psychological changes in the patient to be taken into account to be properly addressed.

The three pillars of treatment are surgery, radiotherapy and medical treatment, the latter mainly in chemotherapy. Each to their effectiveness, but also with their toxic or undesirable effect that sometimes make the patient look for a limited period of time their quality of life. Overall localized tumors are treated with surgery and / or radiotherapy, radiotherapy with locally advanced and / or metastatic chemotherapy and chemotherapy. In all cases we must consider supportive care to avoid potentially serious complications from a treatment not without both acute and chronic.

The cure rate for the set of all locations is 75%, but varies according to location, stage (number of tumor), and situation of the individual in relation to the possibility of dealing with guarantees full treatment, mainly.

In cases where the disease is incurable fact must be careful with the treatments we prescribe and maintain the quality of life of patients above all other considerations, such as the effectiveness of treatment.


¿are the consequences if not treated when necessary


The delay of appropriate treatment at a given time always leads to a worse situation because there will be more disease, treatment will be more likely mutilating and prognosis will be worse with less chance of healing. Therefore it is important to be evaluated by the solvents few specialists in this area of oncology, since a wrong or inappropriate treatment will lead to a worse situation than ever that we started when we were diagnosed.


*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

By Dr. Guillermo López Vivanco
Medical Oncology

Medical Oncology specialist with extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He is currently Chief of Medical Oncology Hospital Quirón Vizcaya.

*Translated with Google translator. We apologize for any imperfection

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