Head and neck cancers are becoming increasingly common

Apr 19, 2021 | Jennifer O'Hara | @jenohara | Comments (7)

There are many causes of head and neck cancers, and treatment is complicated. And one of the fastest growing demographic of cancers in the U.S. is human papillomavirus (HPV) in younger people, says Dr. Daniel Ma, a Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist.

"This is a treatable disease," says Dr. Ma. "It's a disease that's very responsive to radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. And it's one of those diseases, because the patients are young, that there's a good cure rate."

Dr. Ma says treatment for the numerous head and neck cancers requires medical coordination. "It's where tight collaboration between an ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgeon medical oncologist who gives chemotherapy, and a radiation oncologist, like myself, who gives radiation or X-ray treatments, is crucial for the success of the treatment."

In this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Ma describes the various symptoms and getting a diagnosis, and he talks about Mayo Clinic's Oropharynx Cancer Clinic, which he says is the first such multidisciplinary clinic in the country. Dr. Ma also explains advances in treatment like newer radiation techniques, including proton therapy, and more minimally invasive surgical techniques.

To practice safe social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, this interview was conducted using video conferencing. The sound and video quality are representative of the technology used. For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.

Read the full transcript.

For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

Connect with others talking about cancer, and supporting one another in the Head & Neck Cancer support group.

 

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I went through this in 2015!!! It's not fun. I caught it at stage 1 only because I could see it and jumped right on it. 7 1/2 weeks of radiation!!! Then this past February 26th, had major lung surgery on my right lung. Thank God I had a bad fall in January or I wouldn't have known it. They almost lost me twice 2 days later. I didn't know it because it was very early in the morning and I was sleeping. My heart rate went real low. I have an air leak in lung, which is pretty rare and my Doctor can't figure it out. Don't know what will happen next. He was able to get the cancer out with surgery.

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@rocky0814

I went through this in 2015!!! It's not fun. I caught it at stage 1 only because I could see it and jumped right on it. 7 1/2 weeks of radiation!!! Then this past February 26th, had major lung surgery on my right lung. Thank God I had a bad fall in January or I wouldn't have known it. They almost lost me twice 2 days later. I didn't know it because it was very early in the morning and I was sleeping. My heart rate went real low. I have an air leak in lung, which is pretty rare and my Doctor can't figure it out. Don't know what will happen next. He was able to get the cancer out with surgery.

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I would like another Thoracic Surgeon to give me some advice on this air leak!!! OR contact Dr. Thomas Fabian at Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY on New Scotland Avenue!!!

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@rocky0814

I would like another Thoracic Surgeon to give me some advice on this air leak!!! OR contact Dr. Thomas Fabian at Albany Medical Center in Albany, NY on New Scotland Avenue!!!

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@rocky0814 if you or your doctor would like to get a second opinion from Mayo Clinic experts, please contact Mayo Clinic. You can self-refer, but it sounds like it might be best if your physician would send in a referral to discuss your situation doc to doc. Either way, here is the contact information to get started: http://mayocl.in/1mtmR63

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What happens when you feel you have this but your dentist does not refer you? We went to the Mayo clinic in Florida and they reviewed our information but said it is not neurology and sent us home. We are not sure who to turn to. I was once diagnosed with HTLV1. Could this be related? I have a mass on side of my neck growing and we have tried for 6 months to get help.

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@erikamaier

What happens when you feel you have this but your dentist does not refer you? We went to the Mayo clinic in Florida and they reviewed our information but said it is not neurology and sent us home. We are not sure who to turn to. I was once diagnosed with HTLV1. Could this be related? I have a mass on side of my neck growing and we have tried for 6 months to get help.

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@erikamaier, I'm sorry that you do not have answers for health questions that are obviously causing you great concern. Have you requested an appointment with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist?

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My husband and I were able to connect finally with a local ENT, and also making Primary care and GYN appts. It has been a tough year for everyone, but we are finally making some forward progress. I am blessed to have a home, loving teenagers and two rescue dogs. Most of all a husband of almost 30 years who has not given up on me. I am lucky, and blessed, and I try not to forget it!! I will reconnect with our family dentist, or wait till summer and see my cousin Alan Mead who is a dentist. Right now the priority is to stay alive each day to make it to next appt. Thank you Lord, and Mayo clinic I guess I should be grateful you found me "unremarkable!"

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@erikamaier

My husband and I were able to connect finally with a local ENT, and also making Primary care and GYN appts. It has been a tough year for everyone, but we are finally making some forward progress. I am blessed to have a home, loving teenagers and two rescue dogs. Most of all a husband of almost 30 years who has not given up on me. I am lucky, and blessed, and I try not to forget it!! I will reconnect with our family dentist, or wait till summer and see my cousin Alan Mead who is a dentist. Right now the priority is to stay alive each day to make it to next appt. Thank you Lord, and Mayo clinic I guess I should be grateful you found me "unremarkable!"

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Erika, you may wish to also join the discussions in the Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) support group here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/ear-nose-throat-conditions/

May I ask what prompted the appointment referral to Gynecology?

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