Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
Head and neck cancers are tumors that grow in the structures of the head, ears, throat and neck. See a list of head and neck cancers we treat.
New patients may request an appointment online to discuss head or neck cancer symptoms.
Diagnosis of Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms
- Imaging: If your doctor suspects you have head or neck cancer symptoms, such as a mass, the first thing he or she will order is imaging tests. These may include:
- CT scans
- Endoscopy: If a mass is found on one of these tests, your doctor may elect to try to get a better look at the mass using a scope. A scope is a lighted probe attached to a tiny microscope, so your doctor can get a better look at the mass. Depending on the part of the body your doctor will examine will depend on the exact nature of the test. For example, if your doctor suspects laryngeal cancer, he or she will perform a laryngoscopy. If your doctor suspects sinus cancer, he or she may perform a nasal endoscopy.
- Biopsy: The next step will probably be a biopsy, to try to acquire some tissue from the mass to determine if it is cancerous. This biopsy may be performed at the same time as the diagnostic test with the scope, or later.
- Pathology: After the biopsy, your doctor will examine the tissue underneath a microscope to see if it is cancer. If the cells are cancerous, your doctor will also be able to determine how fast the cancerous cells are growing and the type of cancer. This information is critical for designing a personalized treatment plan that will be most effective for your type of cancer.
After Receiving a Cancer Diagnosis
Receiving a cancer diagnosis is devastating. The good news is that the head and neck cancer experts at Wake Forest Baptist are committed to providing the best possible surgical, medical and radiation care possible. Advanced clinical trials are available and we provide supportive, rehabilitative care to our patients both during and after treatment.
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