Cancer of the head and neck refers to mouth, lips, saliva glands, throat, voice box, sinuses, and the nasal cavity.
The symptoms that may occur include ulcers, or red or white patches, in the mouth that may be present for many weeks, changes to the sound of your voice, pain or difficulty when chewing or swallowing, chronic pain of the throat and/or ear, or a swelling or lump appearing in the face or neck.
There are several tests and examinations that may be performed when diagnosing head and neck malignancies, including a biopsy.
During an incision biopsy, your Consultant will use a scalpel to remove a sample of tissue from the problematic area to test, and may use stitches to aid healing if the sample area was large.
Another procedure that may be performed is a fine needle aspiration, during which your consultant uses a fine needle to take a sample of tissue cells to examine and test.
You should be able to return home the same day, and you should heal within a few days.
Your consultant will perform tests on the samples taken and will contact you with the results as soon as possible, advising you on the next steps necessary to treat the cancer.
As with all surgical procedures, there is a risk of infection and bleeding. You will experience some bruising and pain in the sample area, but this should subside with time. It may be necessary to avoid hot food and drink for a few days to aid healing of the biopsy site, but your Consultant should discuss this with you and answer any questions you may have.