Diagnosing and Treating Head and Neck Tumors and Cancer

Physicians at Palmdale Regional Medical Center diagnose and treat a wide range of head and neck tumors and cancers, including:

Laryngeal (Vocal Cord) Cancers

The larynx (voice box) is located just below the throat, contains the vocal cords and is necessary for voice production, breathing and swallowing. Tobacco use, secondhand smoke and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of laryngeal cancers. Symptoms of laryngeal cancer can include a sore throat that does not go away, trouble or pain when swallowing, a lump in the neck or throat, hoarseness or changes to the voice, persistent cough and ear pain.

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Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer can occur on the lips, gums, tongue, inside lining of the cheeks and the roof and floor of the mouth. Risk factors include tobacco and alcohol use, as well as exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Symptoms include a non-healing wound, which may or may not be painful, on the tongue, in the floor of the mouth or along the inner cheek. The sore may grow larger and additional symptoms may include new or increased pain, painful swallowing, ear pain, change in speech or a lump in the neck. If you have a sore in your mouth that does not heal within three weeks, you should see a physician.

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Salivary Gland Disorders and Tumors

Salivary ducts drain the salivary glands but sometimes the chemicals in saliva can crystallize into a stone that blocks the ducts leading to pain and swelling. In addition to pain and swelling, people with salivary stones may also experience dry mouth, difficulty swallowing or opening their mouths and, if left untreated, can lead to repeated salivary gland infections.

Salivary gland stones are often discovered through an examination of the head and neck by a physician who observes one or more enlarged, tender salivary glands. The doctor may be able to feel the stone during examination. Scans such as X-rays, ultrasound or CT scan of the face can confirm the diagnosis.

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Throat (Oropharyngeal) Cancer

Cancers in the oropharynx (where the back of the mouth meets the throat) often begin in the tonsil, soft palate or base of the tongue. Risk factors for throat cancer include tobacco and alcohol abuse, as well as human papillomavirus (HPV). Symptoms can include development of asymmetrical tonsils, pain such as a persistent sore throat or pain that shoots to one ear, difficulty swallowing, a muffled sound to the voice or a lump in the neck. Occasionally a neck lump or mass may be an initial sign.

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Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid gland, located at the base of your neck, produces hormones that regulate metabolism, heart rate and body temperature. Risk factors for cancer include exposure to radiation (including previous treatment for head and neck cancers), personal or family history of goiter (enlarged thyroid) and certain inherited genetic syndromes.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer include a lump in the neck, changes to the voice, difficulty swallowing, pain in the neck and throat and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.

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Parathyroid Tumors and Cancer

The parathyroid glands are four small glands in the neck that produce a hormone to help regulate calcium. A parathyroid adenoma is a noncancerous (benign) tumor found in these glands and can be caused by a genetic problem. The most common cause of parathyroid adenoma is hyperparathyroidism, which leads to increased blood calcium levels.

There is a rare cancer that forms in the tissues of one or more of the parathyroid glands. It is treated with surgery or radiation therapy. Surgeons at Palmdale Regional Medical Center offer minimally invasive parathyroidectomy with and without video assistance.

In the video-assisted surgery, physicians use targeted incisions and endoscopes in order to provide more precise localization of parathyroid tumors through smaller incisions and remove the affected gland.

If you need a referral to a physician at Palmdale Regional Medical Center, call our free physician referral service at 1-800-851-9780.