Head and Neck Cancer Services at Via Christi Health

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Head and neck cancer refers to cancer that affects any part of the head and neck except the brain. Head and neck cancers can involve the following areas:


The larynx also is called the voice box. Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is just below the throat in the neck. It contains the vocal cords, which vibrate and make sound when air is directed against them. The sound echoes through the throat, mouth and nose to make a person's voice. Most laryngeal cancers form in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells lining the inside of the larynx.


Cancer of the mouth, or "oral" cancer, may develop in any part of the mouth. This includes the lip, along with these areas:

  • The front two thirds of the tongue
  • The gums
  • The lining of the inside of the cheeks
  • The floor of the mouth under the tongue
  • The roof of the mouth
  • The small area behind the wisdom teeth

Most lip and oral cavity cancers start in squamous cells, the thin, flat cells that line the lips and oral cavity.

Salivary Glands

Salivary gland cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the salivary glands. The salivary glands make saliva and release it into the mouth. Saliva has enzymes that help digest food and antibodies that help protect against infections of the mouth and throat. More than half of all salivary gland tumors are "benign" or not cancerous and do not spread to other tissues.

Sinuses and Nasal Cavity

The sinuses are hollow, air-filled spaces in the bones around the nose. The sinuses are lined with cells that make mucus, which keeps the inside of the nose from drying out during breathing. The nose opens into the nasal cavity, which is divided into two nasal passages. Air moves through these passages during breathing.

The most common type of sinus and nasal cavity cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer forms in the squamous cells (thin, flat cells) lining the inside of the sinuses and the nasal cavity.

Other types of sinus and nasal cavity cancer include the following:

Melanoma: Cancer that starts in cells called melanocytes, the cells that give skin its natural color.
Sarcoma: Cancer that starts in muscle or connective tissue.
Inverting papilloma: Benign tumors that form inside the nose. A small number of these change into cancer.
Midline granulomas: Cancer of tissues in the middle part of the face.

The throat also is called the pharynx. It's a hollow tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the windpipe and esophagus. Throat cancer includes cancer of the nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat behind the nose), the oropharynx (the middle part of the pharynx) and the hypopharynx (the bottom part of the pharynx). Most throat cancers are squamous-cell carcinomas (cancer that begins in thin, flat cells that look like fish scales).

With a specially trained group of professionals, we use team-oriented approach to personalize each patient's care. A team of specialists works together to provide you with an accurate diagnosis, then develops the best treatment strategy that's tailored exclusively to you and your needs. Every new diagnosis is reviewed by a multi disciplinary team of specialist in a tumor board to formulate best possible treatment plan.

We have a full range of services to prevent, screen for, diagnose and treat cancers of the head and neck. When you contact us, you will meet with a doctor and a nurse clinician. They will coordinate your treatment and follow-up care.



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