Head and Neck Cancer Stem Cell Research
Are all head and neck cancers the same?There are two main types of head and neck cancer. The first type includes cancers of the lips, mouth, throat, voice box, nose or sinuses. These cancers most often develop in older men who smoke or chew tobacco. Scientists believe this type of cancer is caused by genetic mutations triggered by cancer-causing agents in tobacco.
The second type of head and neck cancer affects young adults and is not related to tobacco use. These cancers usually develop at the back of the throat or in the tonsils. They are caused by the human papilloma virus, which also causes cervical cancer.
One of the unique things about head and neck cancer is that, although these tumors all look the same under a microscope, they behave differently in the body and respond differently to treatment, depending on where the tumor originally develops. Scientists don't understand why this happens.
Laryngeal cancer - cancer of the voice box - is a good example. If it develops in the vocal cords and if it is treated in the early stages, it has an 80%t to 90% survival rate. If the same type of cancer develops in the mouth, it is very likely to spread to lymph nodes and the patient is much less likely to survive.