To hear the words cancer or to see a diagnosis of cancer of any type can be difficult for anyone to process and to accept. We are proud to offer the knowledge and expertise of Dr. Clinton Kuwada and Dr. Akshay Patel, Co-Directors of Hartford Hospital’s Head & Neck Cancer Multidisciplinary Team. Drs. Kuwada and Patel are among the few physicians in the state of Connecticut who is fellowship-trained in Head & Neck Surgery, Microvascular Reconstructive Surgery, and Robotic Surgery. They treat all types of Head & Neck cancers including cancers of the throat, thyroid, oral cavity, salivary gland, nasopharyngeal and sinus.
Cancer of the throat is a fairly general term that is used to describe cancerous tumors located in the pharynx (which includes the base of the tongue, the tonsils, and the entrance to the esophagus) or the larynx (known as the voice box). Throat cancer develops when cells in the throat undergo genetic mutations, causing them to grow uncontrollably. The exact cause isn’t fully understood, though certain factors can contribute to your risk of developing throat cancer. These risks can include tobacco use, alcohol use, and human papillomavirus, known more commonly as HPV.
Signs of throat cancer can include voice changes, hoarseness, cough, sore throat, difficulty or painful swallowing, an ulcer or lump that doesn’t go away, ear pain, or weight loss.
The types of cancer in the thyroid gland can typically have an excellent prognosis of treatment and recovery. Thyroid cancer can be asymptomatic, but common symptoms can include an enlarging neck mass, difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness.
Oral Cavity Cancer
Oral cavity cancer grows in the mouth and is the most common site of Head & Neck cancer. It usually presents with sores in the mouth that do not heal, pain, lumps in the cheeks or a thickening in the tissue, white and/or red patches inside the mouth, on the gums or on the tongue, a persistent, untreatable sore throat, chewing and/or swallowing problems, numbness in the mouth or tongue, lumps in the neck, and swelling in the mouth and/or neck.
Sinus & Nasopharyngeal Cancer
Nasopharyngeal cancer begins in the nasopharynx, which is located at the back of the throat, just above the mouth and towards the base of the skull. Symptoms can include headaches, hoarseness, lumps in the nose or throat, nosebleeds, facial pain and numbness, sudden hearing loss, or sudden changes in vision.
Salivary Gland Cancer
This type of cancer starts within the salivary glands, including the parotid and submandibular gland, located behind and under the jaw, and in front of the ear. Other salivary glands are located in the lips, cheek, and throat, and can become cancerous as well.
Salivary gland cancer is rare, as most of the tumors that present there are not cancerous. Symptoms can include facial numbness, localized pain, difficulty opening the mouth and swallowing, and swelling in the neck, face, or jaw.
Oropharyngeal cancer involves cancer of the tonsils and base of tongue. Oropharyngeal cancer is on the rise in the United States and has a strong association with the human papillomavirus, or HPV. It is typically characterized by a persistent sore throat, ear pain, painful swallowing or a lump in the neck.
If you are experiencing symptoms of head & neck cancer and would like to discuss your treatment options with Dr. Kuwada or Dr Patel, please call (860) 493-1950 or visit our patient portal to request an appointment.