What test needs to be conducted to detect Head and Neck Cancer?

If a person has symptoms and signs of head or neck cancer, the doctor asks for the following diagnostic procedure apart from noting down the complete medical history.

There are a number of hospitals/doctors who provide head and neck cancer treatment in Navi Mumbai Mumbai, but first, let us understand how the diagnosis is done.

Physical Examination/Blood & Urine tests: The doctor checks for any lumps in the neck, cheeks, gums, and lips while examining the patient. The doctor also inspects the nose, mouth, throat, and tongue to check for abnormalities. Blood and urine tests are done.

HPV Testing: HPV is linked to a higher risk of head and neck cancers and thus it can also be used to determine which treatments are effective for the patient.

Endoscopy: It allows the doctor to check the internal part of the patient's body through a thin, lighted, flexible tube called as an endoscope. The patient is sedated during the procedure while the tube is inserted through the nose into the throat and down the esophagus to examine the head and neck. 

Biopsy: It involves removal of a small tissue for examination under a microscope. This examination is conducted by a Pathologist and the cells are examined under a microscope for cancer cells, called as a cytologic examination.

Molecular Testing of the tumor: The doctor may ask for laboratory tests on a tumor sample to identify specific genes, proteins, and other factors to determine the tumor. The results generated from this test helps the doctor to determine whether your treatment includes targeted therapy or not.

X-Ray/barium swallow: A barium swallow can be required to identify abnormalities in the area along the swallowing passage. During this procedure, the patient is required to swallow a liquid called barium and a number of X-rays are taken hence. With this, any kind of abnormalities could be easily seen and detected, following which the doctor could ask for a CT-Scan.

Panoramic Radiograph: It is a rotating or panoramic X-ray taken of the upper and lower jawbones to detect cancer or evaluate the teeth before a radiation therapy or chemotherapy, often called as Panorex.

Other series of tests that could be required are the CT-Scan, MRI Scan, PET-CT Scan and the Bone Scan.

The doctor uses the TNM system to describe the stage of cancer, once it is confirmed.

Tumor (T): How large is the tumor and where is it located?

Node (N): Has it spread to the lymph nodes? If yes, then how many?

Metastasis (M): Has it spread to the other parts of the body? If yes, where?

We hope that this article was informative, for more details, consult Dr. Donald John Babu, Oncologist.

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