Head and neck cancer can affect the way a person eats, talks, and breathes. Cancer of the mouth and throat may cause pain, weight loss, and impact how a person lives their life. Head and neck cancer can be caused by exposures to tobacco or other carcinogens and can also be related to viral infection, such as the human papilloma virus (HPV). Dr. Magill is a board certified surgeon in Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. She offers treatment of head and neck cancer in accordance with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines. Dr. Magill is highly experienced and expertly trained surgeon able to diagnosis and treat skin cancer, lip, tongue, and mouth cancer, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the neck lymph nodes, and thyroid cancer. At Alaska Facial Plastic Surgery & ENT, Dr. Magill works with a team of radiation and medical oncologists to make sure all aspects of treatment are coordinated and aligned with the latest techniques and research.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have a head and neck cancer?
Cancers of the mouth often start as sores or painful areas that do not heal. Weight loss can occur, as it may hurt to eat, swallow or talk, and a firm area or open wound may be noted in the mouth. If the cancer has spread beyond the mouth, lymph nodes in the neck may be enlarged. Cancer of the larynx may cause voice changes, hoarseness, blood tinged sputum and difficulty breathing. Dr. Magill will perform a thorough head and neck exam to screen for any head and neck cancer and will often order imaging studies when indicated to get needed information for treatment.
Is surgery all that I need for a head and neck cancer?
Although many types of head and neck cancer at an early stage can be treated using surgery alone, it is often necessary to consult with a medical oncologist or radiation oncologist if non-surgical therapy is needed. Alaska Facial Plastic Surgery & ENT, we make sure a highly skilled care team is in place to deliver the best possible treatment outcomes from head and neck cancer.
What is a tracheostomy?
When the throat, upper airway or larynx is affected by a head or neck cancer, a tracheostomy may be needed to provide a safe and secure way to breathe. A tracheostomy is an opening into the windpipe or trachea and provides a route for a specially designed tube to enter the airway and provide safe airflow. A temporary or permanent tracheostomy may occasionally be needed to help patients breathe due to a head and neck cancer.
How does head and neck cancer affect eating?
If a cancer is in the mouth or throat, it may be too painful to eat and food may not travel properly into the esophagus. An individual may eat only soft or liquid foods to try to deal with these changes and weight loss can occur. Occasionally, a feeding tube or tube into the stomach is needed to support individuals with a head and neck cancer during or after treatment to provide adequate nutrition.