The five main types of head and neck cancer are:
- Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer: Includes the larynx (voice box) and the lower part of the throat that surrounds the larynx.
- Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer: These areas are behind the nose where air passes on the way to the throat.
- Nasopharyngeal Cancer: The air passageway at the upper part of the throat behind the nose.
- Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer: Includes the mouth, tongue, and middle of the throat.
- Salivary Gland Cancer: The salivary glands are tissues that produce saliva, the fluid that is released into the mouth to keep it moist. Saliva contains enzymes that begin breaking down food.
Pre- and Post-Treatment Rehabilitation
Like many types of cancer, the sooner oncology rehabilitation is initiated with those battling head and neck cancers the better - ideally before any surgery, radiation or chemotherapy is started. Having an evaluation prior to treatment is important because it allows the rehab team to get baseline measurements. Baseline measurements help the team determine what is "normal" for you and gives them a goal for post-treatment therapy.
With head and neck cancers, specific challenges can include swallowing, eating, voice, speech and dental health issues. Our Survivorship Team is there to help patients through these challenges, answering questions and developing strategies to maintain or regain function.
Once cancer treatment is complete, the St. Francis Survivorship Team, which includes nurses, physical/occupational/speech therapists and dieticians, provide a thorough evaluation. This evaluation identifies specific needs, like overall strength, endurance, speech, swallowing, range of motion or nutrition. Therapy can also serve a preventive purpose, using stretches and exercise to prevent the muscle tightness or stiffness that is common after radiation.