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Around 32 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancer in the UK every day1. However, head and neck cancer is not a single disease, it’s a number of different conditions, arising from different parts of the head and neck.

The London Clinic is committed to providing the best cancer care for our patients. We have world-leading ear nose and throat and maxillofacial surgeons and specialist oncologists, working with highly-trained, multidisciplinary teams to provide the latest treatments.

Being diagnosed with any cancer is stressful. At this challenging time The London Clinic can offer cutting edge therapies, psychological support and a comfortable environment in which to recover.

What is head and neck cancer?

The term head and neck cancer refers to a group of conditions, including cancers of the mouth, the throat, the sinuses, the salivary glands, the nose and the middle ear.

Your specialist will identify your cancer and take time to explain the implications of your diagnosis and the treatments available to you.

Cancers develop when cells divide and grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way, forming a tumour. Cancer can develop in any of the tissues or organs in the head and neck, but the most common cancer starts in the cells that form the lining of the throat, especially in the larynx or voice-box2. The cancers that experts at The London Clinic can treat include:

  • Laryngeal cancer: Cancer of the larynx of voice-box is the most frequently seen head and neck cancer.
  • Oropharyngeal cancer: This includes the part of the throat directly behind the mouth, the soft palate, the base of the tongue and the walls of the throat.
  • Cancer of the nose, nasopharynx and paranasal sinuses: This includes the area behind the nose, the spaces next to the nose and the lining of the nose and nostrils.
  • Cancer of the salivary glands.
  • Cancer of the eye.
  • Cancer of the ear.

Other types of cancer can also affect the head and neck area. These include lymphomas, sarcomas and skin cancers.

Different cancers will grow and spread at different rates and will require different treatment strategies. Your team will customise a plan according to your individual needs. Your treatment plan is shared with you following a multidisciplinary team meeting.

Who is at risk of head and neck cancer?

The risk of getting any cancer is linked to your age, your genetic heritage and the way you live your life. Anyone could potentially develop head and neck cancer, but the majority of cases are linked to lifestyle factors, which means that some people are more at risk3:

  • Smoking: Tobacco smoke is a significant risk factor for both laryngeal and oral cancer.
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol is associated with 30% of mouth cancers and 25% of laryngeal cancers.
  • Chewing betel or tobacco.
  • Previous radiation.
  • Occupational exposure including wood dust, asbestos, rubber production and printing processes.
  • Diet: A diet with few fruits or vegetables may increase the chance of getting head and neck cancer.
  • HPV infection: Wart virus infection may increase the risk of developing laryngeal cancer.

Signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer

The symptoms will depend on exactly where the cancer is and whether it has spread:

The most common symptoms of mouth cancers are an ulcer, lump or pain in the mouth that doesn’t go away. You may also notice bleeding, bad breath, weight loss or a neck swelling because of an enlarged lymph node.

Throat cancers may also present with a painless lump in the neck. Other symptoms depend on the location of the cancer. If they are higher up you may notice a headache, a blocked nose or recurrent nosebleeds. Cancers lower in the oropharynx may cause a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, voice changes or weight loss.

Cancer of the sinuses may cause pain, swelling or numbness in the cheeks, a long-standing blocked nose, headaches and loose teeth for no obvious reason.

These symptoms can be triggered by a number of conditions, so there is no need to panic. However, you should see your GP if you are unwell or have any concerns.

Why choose The London Clinic?

The London Clinic is dedicated to providing the best, personalised healthcare with over 600 world-renowned consultants available to offer informed health advice and treatment.

Spanning Harley Street and Devonshire Place, The London Clinic is situated in the heart of London’s internationally-known medical district. This central location, together with state-of-the art technologies and facilities that are not widely available in other hospitals, makes The London Clinic the hospital of choice for around 120,000 patients every year.

Offering affordable and competitive self-pay packages and expert support from Clinical Nurse Specialists and our specialised multidisciplinary team, 98% of our patients said they would recommend The London Clinic to their friends and families

Head and neck cancer specialists at The London Clinic

The London Clinic’s priority is to provide our patients with support, comfort and expert cancer care. We have the largest group of ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeons working in the private sector of any hospital in London, using the latest techniques.  

ENT surgeons within The London Clinic work closely in multi-disciplinary teams with experts from other specialties to offer the very best care. These include oral and maxillofacial surgeons, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, oncology specialists, a speech and language therapist and our oncology dietetic service.

We have a dedicated head and neck specialist nurse and a nursing team during surgical treatment. They will maintain your physical health, support your emotional wellbeing and help you and your family, every step of the way. We also have a complementary therapy service, oncology counselling and an extensive physiotherapy service. 

Investigations and tests at The London Clinic

The London Clinic offers a range of tests to investigate head and neck cancer quickly, efficient and in a comfortable environment. High-tech imaging and a purpose-built endoscopy suite can enable your specialist to diagnose and stage your disease, so that you’re offered the best treatment for your cancer.

Following consultation and assessment in the out-patient clinic, your consultant will arrange tests to discover more about your condition. These can include:

  • Ultrasound scan: This is often the first line of investigation for someone with worrying symptoms.
  • Endoscopy: A thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end may be passed through your nose and into your throat, under sedation or general anaesthetic. Images will be relayed to a computer screen to identify any abnormalities and allow biopsies to be precisely taken. These will be examined by our expert pathologists in the laboratory.
  • X-rays of the face and neck.
  • MRI scan: The London Clinic has two MRI scanners offering a comprehensive range of MRI investigations, to provide more detailed images of the head and neck.
  • PET-CT scan: These scans are used to look for areas of active cancer within the head and neck, the lymph nodes. The CT takes a series of computerised pictures to create a 3D image of the area.

Treatments for head and neck cancer at The London Clinic

The right choice of treatment for your head and neck cancer depends on the type of tumour, its size and stage and whether the cancer has spread. Your consultant will discuss the best ways of treating your disease, as well as explaining the side-effects of therapies and taking time to address any worries you may have. They will then develop a personalised programme, tailored to your individual needs.

The three main forms of treatment are:

Surgery:  Operative treatment may include removal of the tumour together with some of the surrounding tissues. There will also be a surgical examination to check for any spread of the disease. This is a delicate area, but The London Clinic’s surgeons have experience and expertise in performing these challenging surgical procedures.

Radiotherapy: High-energy X-ray radiation can be directed at the head and neck to destroy cancer cells. This can provide relief of symptoms and reduce the risk of recurrence after surgery. The London Clinic has a dedicated radiotherapy suite with the latest image-guided, volumetric arc and intensity-modulated radiotherapy to increase the accuracy of treatment and reduce the risk of complications.

Chemotherapy: Different combinations of chemotherapy can be given by mouth or intravenous injection. These prevent the cancer cells dividing and proliferating, helping to shrink the tumour and reduce the risk of spread.  The London Clinic offers outpatient chemotherapy in a comfortable, private and discreet location.

Head and neck cancer treatment cost

Cancer care at The London Clinic may be covered by insurance. We also offer affordable, competitive self-pay packages for treatment, biopsy or screening. Please call +44 (0)20 3219 3315 to speak to our helpful team to find out more and to book an appointment.

[1] Cancer Research UK 

[2] Cancer Research UK

[3] Cancer Research UK

Main switchboard: +44 (0) 207 935 4444

Treatment enquiries: +44 (0) 207 616 7693Consultant appointments: +44 (0) 207 616 7693 Prices for self funding patients: +44 (0) 203 219 3315Physiotherapy appointments: +44 (0) 207 616 7651X-ray and scan appointments: +44 (0) 207 616 7653Invoice and payment enquiries: +44 (0) 207 616 7708

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