How is Diagnosis of Head and Neck Cancer done?
There are different methods of Head and Neck Cancer diagnosis. They are elaborated below.
Physical examination: A physical exam of the relevant body part such as the lips, throat, nasal cavity, inside of the mouth, etc. can be done to check for any lumps, discolorations, or abnormal appearance.
Biopsy: A procedure in which a group of cells or tissues are removed from the body part that is suspected of being cancerous to check and examine under the microscope by a pathologist.
Laryngoscopy: In this procedure, the doctor checks the larynx or voice box with a probe called the laryngoscope. It can also be used to extract cells from the vocal cords for analysis. This technique is primarily used in the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer and oropharyngeal cancer.
Nasoscopy: In this procedure, the doctor checks the inside of the nose for abnormalities or lumps that may be cancerous using a probe called the nasoscope. It can also be used to extract cells from the nose.
Upper endoscopy: Endoscopy is typically used to examine the stomach, but in this case, the probe, which is called an endoscope, is inserted into the nose or mouth and used to examine the nose, throat, and esophagus and in some cases the duodenum. It is used to detect nasopharyngeal cancer, laryngeal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, and salivary gland cancer.
Bronchoscopy: It probes the trachea and the bigger airways of the lung for anomalies using a bronchoscope (a thin, lighted tube) by inserting it through the nose or mouth into the lungs.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: It uses an electromagnet, radio waves, and computational techniques to image the body internally and is a highly useful method in detecting cancer. This method is used in diagnosing almost all the different types of head and neck cancers.
CT scan (or CAT scan): Computerised tomography, computed tomography, or computerized axial tomography is used in creating a detailed image of the body's internal organs by using x-rays. It is used prominently in Head and Neck Cancer diagnosis in almost all its various subtypes.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: It uses a small quantity of radioactive glucose which is injected into the body. The cancerous cells can be detected using the PET scanner, which rotates the body and images the parts where glucose is present since malignant cells show brighter on the image due to its higher absorption of energy. The method is used in detecting nasopharyngeal cancer, laryngeal cancer, hypopharyngeal cancer, and lip and oral cavity cancer.
PET-CT scan: The images obtained from the CT scan and the PET scan can be combined to get a more detailed picture of the area in question to make a more accurate diagnosis and prescribe the best treatment. This is used in the diagnosis of laryngeal cancer.