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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How are head and neck cancers diagnosed?

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  • 1

    Thanks

    Dr Smariti Kapila

    Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon

    She has primarily been trained in Sydney, but also across Australia, including Darwin and several outreach communities, Adelaide, Gosford, and Sydney, including St Vincent's, Royal … View Profile

    Head and Neck cancers are usually diagnosed by a combination of means:

    • A detailed history - asking questions including how long a lesion or a lump has been present, associated symptoms, risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, previous sun exposure or skin cancers, and family history
    • A thorough examination - looking in all areas of the head and neck, including the nose, mouth, and with a camera down to the voice box and top of the food pipe, for the lesion, and any other lesions which may not yet have been noticed
    • Imaging - a CT or MRI to establish the shape, contents, spread, location etc of the lesion, and danger areas where the lesion might spread eg neck, chest
    • Biopsy - taking a piece of tissue from the lesion so that pathologists can look at it under the microscope and tell us things such as whether there are cancer cells or what type of tissue it comes from

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