Tumors arising from the thyroid gland can be benign or malignant. There is no way to definitively know if a tumor is cancerous or not without removing the involved portion of the gland and checking with a pathologist. Statistically, most tumors are benign. Some diagnostic testing can be done to help decide how to manage these tumors, but surgical removal remains the only definitive way to establish the diagnosis. High risk groups include women, people over the age of 40, those with a family history of thyroid cancer, and patients with a history of radiation exposure. Thyroid cancer is often very indolent, slow growing and treatable with a high cure rate, especially if caught early. Make sure to consult with a physician if you are experiencing a lump in the neck, difficulty swallowing or breathing, a pain in the neck, or hoarseness.
Parotid and Submandibular Gland Tumors (Salivary gland tumors)
The parotid and submandibular glands are paired (right and left) in the neck and help produce saliva. Tumors can develop in these glands and are usually benign. The only symptom that people will usually notice is a lump or growth in the neck. Surgical removal of these tumors is the mainstay of treatment because it provides a definitive diagnosis, and is usually curative. If the tumor is malignant, other forms of therapy may also be recommended.
Head and Neck Cancer
Head and neck cancer includes cancers of the mouth, nose, sinuses, salivary glands, thyroid, throat, skull base, and lymph nodes in the neck. Concerning symptoms include a lump or growth that does not heal, a sore throat or pain that lasts more than 2 weeks, trouble swallowing, a change in the voice or hoarseness, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, one sided ear pain, or trouble chewing.
Using tobacco and/or alcohol increases your risk. In fact, 85 percent of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use, including smoking and smokeless tobacco. If found early, these cancers are often curable. Treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination. Treatments can adversely affect eating/swallowing, speaking or even breathing, so patients often need rehabilitation.
This is not a comprehensive list of symptoms or a complete discussion. Please come in and talk with us for any symptoms in the head and neck area that last for more than 2 weeks.