Most types of cancer in the neck start from the mucosal cells around the head and neck area, such as the throat, nose, and mouth. The mucosal surfaces are the soggy tissues in the cavities and hollow organs of the body. Most mucosal cells resemble squamous (scales) when they are viewed with the microscope, which explains why cancer cases in the neck are usually known as squamous carcinomas.
Some types of cancer in the neck start in other cells and areas in the body. For instance, adenocarcinomas are cancers that that start in the glandular.
The different types of cancer in the neck can equally be grouped based on the area of the body they begin. They include:
* Oral cavity: This section of the body includes the bony side of the mouth (known as hard palate), the floor part of the mouth beneath the tongue, the buccal mucosa, the gums (gingival), and the first few inches of the tongue. The types of cancer that affects these regions are among the most common types of cancer in the neck and head.
* Salivary glands: This gland is responsible for producing saliva which helps keep the mucosal surfaces soggy. There are different types of salivary glands but the main ones are close to the jawbone and at the base of the mouth.
* Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses: There are types of cancer in the neck and head that affect the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. The nasal cavity is the empty space located in the nose while the paranasal sinuses are small holes located at the head bones that surround the nose.
* Pharynx: The pharynx is a tube-like organ that begins at the rear of the nose and links to the trachea and esophagus.
The pharynx is divided into three parts:
a. The hypopharynx which is the base of the pharynx
b. The oropharynx which is at the center, and includes the tonsils, the lower side of the tongue, and the soft palate.
c. The nasopharynx which is at the rear of the nose
* Larynx. This is equally referred to as the voicebox, which is a little passage that is under the pharynx and created by cartilage. It is made up of the vocal chords and has a tiny tissue known as the epiglottis. The types of cancer in the neck that affects the larynx is not as common as other types of neck cancers.
* Lymph nodes: The types of cancer in the neck that affects the lymph nodes are very malignant. Sometimes some squamous cancer cells can be seen in this part of the neck. This type of cancer is referred to as metastatic suamous cancer.
There are other cancers which affect other parts of the head both are not referred as neck or head cancers. These parts include cancer in the bone, skin, scalp, thyroid, eye, and brain.
Though neck and head cancers are not as common as other types of cancers, they are very malignant. They mostly affect men and those that are more than 5o years old. The major causes of these types of cancer in the neck are alcohol and tobacco smoking. So, a reduced intake of these substances will greatly reduce anyone’s chances of developing them.