What is head and neck squamous cell carcinoma?Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck arises from the outer layer of the skin or mucous membranes in the head and neck region, such as from the mouth, nose, throat, and sinuses. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 90% of all head and neck cancers. The most common sites for squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck are the mouth, throat, nose, sinuses of the mouth and nose, and the larynx or voice box.
What are squamous cells?Squamous cells are thin, flat cells that make up the outermost layer of the skin, lining the mucous membranes, lungs, and urinary tract in the human body.
Disease Etiology (Causes)Certain genetic mutations and risk factors, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, tobacco chewing, and human papillomavirus infection, are responsible for the development of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.
Disease EpidemiologyIt is the seventh most common type of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck. Every year 6,000,000 new cases are reported worldwide. It is common among people between the ages of 50 and 60, but the incidence is now increasing among young people.
Signs and symptomsThe patient may suffer from the following sign and symptoms. These are
- Recurrent or persistent sore throat
- Pain in the throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- A mass or lump in the throat
- Weight loss
- Hoarse voice or any change in the voice
- Pain in the ear
- Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes
DiagnosisThe following diagnostic tests and procedures can be used to make a diagnosis. These are
- Imaging tests such as X-Ray, CT-scan (computerized tomography), PET-scan (Positron emission tomography) help detect the site, size, and location of the tumor.
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Tumor biopsy and histopathological examination
- Nasopharyngolaryngoscopy (A camera device that is inserted into the mouth and throat to visualize the mouth, throat and larynx to detect any disease).