Head & Neck Cancer Diagnosis

Head & Neck Cancer diagnosis poses a challenge, as whilst a proportion of patients may present with a neck lump, other symptoms may be less obvious and may be vague. Following these may include a persistent sore throat, change in the voice or swallowing difficulties.

In reality is that in the average working career of a GP, they may encounter one or two new diagnoses of Head and Neck cancer. This is further reflective of the incidence. This can make the diagnosis of such cases a challenge.

Additionally cancers of the oropharynx (back of the throat) by virtue of their anatomical placement may reach a significant size before they present with symptoms. The first presentation may be a neck lump, representing metastasis from the primary.

Investigations carried out by the GP such as blood tests or ultrasound scans may only be of limited benefit and may even serve to delay the diagnosis.

In the presence of red flag symptoms, following a careful history and examination, expedient referral on a 2WW pathway is often the best process for the patient.

Head & Neck Cancer | Symptoms

Symptoms of concern may include:

  • The presence of a persistent unexplained sore throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Pain on swallowing.
  • Unexplained earache (otalgia) along with risk factors including being an ex-smoker or heavy alcohol drinker (Appendix I).

Head & Neck Cancer | Early Detection

If you are concerned about any of the above symptoms, then an early referral to an ENT specialist either through the NHS or privately should hopefully allow you to obtain the reassurance that is required. Rarely if this is something more sinister, it’s essential to ensure that the specialist you are seeing has the experience and skillset to provide you with the optimum treatment.

Early diagnosis is the key to ensure the best possible outcome. If you’re concerned about symptoms you may be experiencing, please contact your GP to arrange a referral. Alternatively please feel free to contact the team here, we will be happy to arrange an appointment for you.

Experience in dealing with Head and neck Cancer management is indeed the key. The author works as part of an experienced team and is able to offer advice and information in the management head and neck tumours from the benign through to the malignant.

In any case, where you need to get expert care from a qualified ENT specialist consultant in Oxford, you can book your consultation today. Firstly, please get in touch with our team by filling out the form herePriy Silva holds clinics at both Nuffield Health Oxford and GenesisCare.