Types of Head and Neck Cancer
There are five main types of head and neck cancer:
- Oral cavity
- Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses
- Salivary glands.
1. Mouth (Oral cavity): The mouth, also termed as the oral cavity, includes the lips, gums, and tongue. The muscles at the base of the tongue continue into the upper throat (oropharynx). Cancer that starts in the mouth is also called as oral cancer.
2. Throat (pharynx): Throat is also called the pharynx, is a hollow tube that starts behind the nose and leads to the food pipe (esophagus) and the windpipe (trachea).
Throat Cancer can affect the three parts of the pharynx:
a. Nasopharynx – the upper part which is behind the nose and above the soft palate; cancer starting in this area is called nasopharyngeal cancer.
b. Oropharynx– the middle part which is the area from the soft palate and tongue base to the back of the mouth, including the tonsils; cancer developed in this area is called oropharyngeal cancer.
c. Hypopharynx – the lower part, behind the voice box (larynx); cancer starting in this area is called hypopharyngeal cancer.
Head and Neck Cancer Types
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2.Larynx(Voice box): The voice box, also called the larynx, is a short passageway that connects the lower part of the throat (hypopharynx) with the windpipe (trachea). Cancer that starts developing in the larynx is called laryngeal cancer. The larynx contains the vocal cords also termed as (glottis), which vibrate when the air passes through them to produce the sound of your voice.
- Salivary glands: The salivary glands make saliva, which keeps the mouth moist, helps you swallow food and protects the mouth against infections. There are three major salivary glands:
- Parotid gland – in front of the ears
- Sublingual gland – under the tongue
- Submandibular gland – under the jawbone.
There are hundreds of smaller glands throughout the lining of the mouth and throat, called as the minor salivary glands. Most salivary gland cancers affect the parotid glands. Rarely the submandibular and sublingual glands are affected.
4. Nasal cavity and paranasalsinuses: Nasal cavity is the large, hollow space located inside the nose. This space warms, moistens and filters the air that you breathe. The bones around the nasal cavity have a small bunch of air-filled spaces called the paranasal sinuses. These sinuses directly affect the sound and tone of your voice.
There are four pairs of paranasal sinuses:
1. Maxillary sinuses – under the eyes and in the cheek area
2. Frontal sinuses – behind the forehead
3. Ethmoid sinuses – above the nose and between the eyes
4. Sphenoid sinuses – behind the nose and between the eyes.