Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck Cancer

What are cancers of the head and neck?

Cancers that are known collectively as head and neck cancers usually begin in the squamous cells that line the moist, mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck (for example, inside the mouth, the nose, and the throat). These squamous cell cancers are often referred to as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Head and neck cancers can also begin in the salivary glands, but salivary gland cancers are relatively uncommon. Salivary glands contain many different types of cells that can become cancerous, so there are many different types of salivary gland cancer.

Cancers of the head and neck are further categorized by the area of the head or neck in which they begin. These areas are described below and labeled in the image of head and neck cancer regions. 

Oral cavity: Includes the lips, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the gums, the lining inside the cheeks and lips, the floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue, the hard palate (bony top of the mouth), and the small area of the gum behind the wisdom teeth.

Pharynx: The pharynx (throat) is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that starts behind the nose and leads to the esophagus. It has three parts: the nasopharynx (the upper part of the pharynx, behind the nose); the oropharynx (the middle part of the pharynx, including the soft palate [the back of the mouth], the base of the tongue, and the tonsils); the hypopharynx (the lower part of the pharynx).

Larynx: The larynx, also called the voicebox, is a short passageway formed by cartilage just below the pharynx in the neck. The larynx contains the vocal cords. It also has a small piece of tissue, called the epiglottis, which moves to cover the larynx to prevent food from entering the air passages.

Paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity: The paranasal sinuses are small hollow spaces in the bones of the head surrounding the nose. The nasal cavity is the hollow space inside the nose.

Salivary glands: The major salivary glands are in the floor of the mouth and near the jawbone. The salivary glands produce saliva.

Read the full article on the National Cancer Institute website.


Non-standard treatments

Bitter melon
Potent cytotoxicity against all four pancreatic cancer cell lines tested
Researchers at University of Colorado Cancer Center prepared bitter melon juice by simply purchasing the melons (Chinese variety) from a local grocery store, removing pulp and seeds, then using a household juicer. Solids were removed, and the remaining juice was either tested directly on cell cultures, or freeze dried and ground into a fine powder to be used later for feeding to mice.

Bitter melon juice diluted to just 5% in water showed remarkable potency in severely damaging all four pancreatic cancer cell lines researchers tested. The bitter melon reduced the viability of two cancer cell lines by 90%, while it knocked off the other two lines by a staggering 98%. And it did so after just 72 hours of treatment!

Tadalafil (drug used to treat erectile dysfunction)

This study involving 32 patients with Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma concluded: These findings demonstrate that tadalafil augments general and tumor-specific immunity in patients with HNSCC and has therapeutic potential in HNSCC. Evasion of immune surveillance and suppression of systemic and tumor-specific immunity is a significant feature of head and neck cancer development. This study demonstrates that a PDE5 inhibitor, tadalafil, can reverse tumor-specific immune suppression in patients with head and neck cancer, with potential for therapeutic application.

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