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Head and Neck Cancer

Each year, tens of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with cancer of the head or neck. These tumors account for up to 5 percent of all cancers in the U.S. A cancer diagnosis can be scary and raise many questions, but your doctor can help put your mind at ease by discussing the available treatment options, benefits, and risks.

Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, malignant growths that begin in the flat squamous cells that form the inner lining of the head and neck. A tumor limited to this layer of cells is usually called carcinoma in situ. A tumor that grows beyond the squamous cells and moves into deeper tissues is called invasive squamous cell carcinoma. The most common locations of head and neck cancers include oral cancer (mouth/tongue), larynx (voice box), and pharynx (throat).

Most cancers of the head and neck can be cured, especially if they are found early. Treatment varies according to the type, location, and extent of the cancer and often includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. UConn head and neck cancer specialists tailor treatment plans to their patients' needs, taking into account the type of cancer, the age of the individual, the degree to which the cancer has spread, and the overall health of the patient.