Head and neck cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells that usually starts in the mouth, nose, or throat area. These cancers can spread to nearby lymph nodes or organs, or to distant areas of the body. Most head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco or alcohol use.
Treatment for head and neck cancer depends on what type of cancer you have and how far it has spread. You may need surgery to remove the cancer. You also may take medicines (chemotherapy) or get radiation treatments to kill the cancer cells, or you may need all three treatments.
Treatment with chemotherapy or radiation can make you feel very tired and sick to your stomach and may cause vomiting and diarrhea. Radiation may also make the treated area red and sore, although these symptoms go away after treatment ends. These treatments also can weaken your immune system, raising your risk of infection.
Finding out that you have cancer is scary. You may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You also can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: October 25, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Jimmy Ruiz, MD - Hematology, Oncology
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