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Neck Cancers

Some patients with head and neck cancer first show up to a doctor’s office because they feel a “swollen gland” or lump in the neck. It is important to note that a lump in the neck is not necessarily cancer. Lymph nodes can be enlarged for many reasons, including inflammation and infection. Also, there are a number of benign (non-cancerous) tumors that can be discovered in the neck (e.g., schwannomas, neurofibromas, paragangliomas and others). Actually, most lumps in the neck are not cancer. However, if a lump doesn’t go away after about two weeks, particularly if your doctor has tried some type of treatment, it’s worth getting it checked out by a specialist. The term “neck cancer” is not a very specific term. In most cases it refers to cancer cells that have spread into lymph nodes within the neck from a primary tumor site. These are called metastatic lymph nodes. Just about any cancer in the head and neck region can spread into lymph nodes in the neck.

More rarely, cancers from another part of your body can also spread to the neck. When cancers from parts of the body spread to the neck, the neck mass is usually in the lower part of the neck just above the collarbones.

Cancers such as lymphomas and sarcomas can start in the neck, and they are treated somewhat differently.

In the U.S., 850 to 900 children and adolescents younger than 20 years of age are diagnosed with soft tissue sarcomas each year, of which approximately 350 are rhabdomyosarcomas. Gurney JG, Young JL, Roffers SD, Smith MA, Bunin GR. SEER pediatric monograph – soft tissue sarcomas. National Cancer Institute. Page 111. http://seer.cancer.gov/publications/childhood/softtissue.pdf.

Thyroid cancers start in the thyroid gland and are considered separately.

https://vimeo.com/66246242

 

Navigating neck cancers

To learn more about a particular type of neck cancer, choose an article below.

Basics of Neck Cancer

An overview of the basics of neck cancer.

Metastatic Lymph Nodes

A patient is diagnosed with metastatic lymph nodes when cancer spreads from a primary tumor somewhere else in the body to the lymph nodes of the neck. Explore this page to learn more about metastatic lymph nodes in the neck.

Advanced Thyroid Cancer

Advanced thyroid cancer begins in the thyroid, which is a gland located in the central neck. Explore this page to learn more about advanced thyroid cancer.

References

1 Gurney JG, Young JL, Roffers SD, Smith MA, Bunin GR. SEER pediatric monograph – soft tissue sarcomas. National Cancer Institute. Page 111. http://seer.cancer.gov/publications/childhood/softtissue.pdf.

2 Fletcher CDM, Rydholm A, Singer S, Sundaram M, Coindre JM. Soft Tissue Tumours. In: Barnes EL, Eveson JW, Reichart P, Sidransky D, editors. World Health Organization classification of tumours: pathology & genetics WHO Classification. Lyon: IARCPress; 2005.

3 Zhang MQ, El-Mofty SK, Dávila RM. Detection of human papillomavirus-related squamous cell carcinoma cytologically and by in situ hybridization in fine-needle aspiration biopsies of cervical metastasis: a tool for identifying the site of an occult head and neck primary. Cancer. 2008;114(2):118-23.

4 Cunningham MJ, Myers EN, Bluestone CD. Malignant tumors of the head and neck in children – a 20 year review. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology. 1987;(13)3:279-292.

5 Edge SB, et al. The AJCC Cancer Staging Manual – Seventh Edition. American Joint Committee on Cancer 2010. Page 611.

6 Ries LAG, Young JL, Keel GE, Eisner MP, Lin YD, Horner M-J (editors). SEER Survival Monograph: Cancer Survival Among Adults: U.S. SEER Program, 1988-2001, Patient and Tumor Characteristics. National Cancer Institute, SEER Program, NIH Pub. No. 07-6215, Bethesda, MD, 2007.

7 Yuek B. Measuring and Reporting Quality of Life in Head and Neck Cancer. mcLEan, Virginia; 2002.

8 Arens C. Transoral treatment strategies for head and neck tumors. GMS Curr Top Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012;11:Doc05.

9 Weinstein GS, O'malley BW, Magnuson JS, et al. Transoral robotic surgery: a multicenter study to assess feasibility, safety, and surgical margins. Laryngoscope. 2012;122(8):1701-7.

10 Li Y, Taylor JM, Ten haken RK, Eisbruch A. The impact of dose on parotid salivary recovery in head and neck cancer patients treated with radiation therapy. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007;67(3):660-9.

11 Garden AS, Morrison WH, Wong PF, et al. Disease-control rates following intensity-modulated radiation therapy for small primary oropharyngeal carcinoma. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007;67(2):438-44.

12 Eisbruch A, Levendag PC, Feng FY, et al. Can IMRT or brachytherapy reduce dysphagia associated with chemoradiotherapy of head and neck cancer? The Michigan and Rotterdam experiences. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007;69(2 Suppl):S40-2.

13 Chen AM, Farwell DG, Luu Q, Chen LM, Vijayakumar S, Purdy JA. Marginal misses after postoperative intensity-modulated radiotherapy for head and neck cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011;80(5):1423-9.

14 Lee NY, O'meara W, Chan K, et al. Concurrent chemotherapy and intensity-modulated radiotherapy for locoregionally advanced laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007;69(2):459-68.

15 Beadle BM, Liao KP, Giordano SH, et al. Reduced feeding tube duration with intensity-modulated radiation therapy for head and neck cancer: A Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results-Medicare Analysis. Cancer. 2017;123(2):283-293.

16 Pfister DG, Cassileth BR, Deng GE, et al. Acupuncture for pain and dysfunction after neck dissection: results of a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28(15):2565-70.

17 Scarantino C, Leveque F, Swann RS, et al. Effect of pilocarpine during radiation therapy: results of RTOG 97-09, a phase III randomized study in head and neck cancer patients. J Support Oncol. 2006;4(5):252-8.

18 Holliday EB, Frank SJ. Proton radiation therapy for head and neck cancer: a review of the clinical experience to date. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014;89(2):292-302.

19 Miller RC, Lodge M, Murad MH, Jones B. Controversies in clinical trials in proton radiotherapy: the present and the future. Semin Radiat Oncol. 2013;23(2):127-33.

20 Zenda S, Kawashima M, Nishio T, et al. Proton beam therapy as a nonsurgical approach to mucosal melanoma of the head and neck: a pilot study. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011;81(1):135-9.

21 Fukumitsu N, Okumura T, Mizumoto M, et al. Outcome of T4 (International Union Against Cancer Staging System, 7th edition) or recurrent nasal cavity and paranasal sinus carcinoma treated with proton beam. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012;83(2):704-11.

22 Demizu Y, Fujii O, Terashima K, et al. Particle therapy for mucosal melanoma of the head and neck. A single-institution retrospective comparison of proton and carbon ion therapy. Strahlenther Onkol. 2014;190(2):186-91.

23 Fuji H, Yoshikawa S, Kasami M, et al. High-dose proton beam therapy for sinonasal mucosal malignant melanoma. Radiat Oncol. 2014;9:162.

24 Allen AM, Pawlicki T, Dong L, et al. An evidence based review of proton beam therapy: the report of ASTRO's emerging technology committee. Radiother Oncol. 2012;103(1):8-11.

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