Earlier Detection and More Clinically Actionable Information Required

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Head & Neck Cancer is detected too late
  • An estimated 68,000 men and women in the United States will be diagnosed with head & neck cancer in 2021

  • 2/3 of head and neck tumors are detected at the advanced stage

  • Late stage discovery can lead to the need for surgeries and treatments that drastically impact appearance, speech, and swallowing

Doctor and Patient

Source: NIH National Cancer Institute

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Visual & tactile detection methods utilized 
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  • Medical practitioners have limited diagnostic tools to detect head and neck cancers at an early stage 

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Death rates are increasing 
  • Mortality rates have been increasing annually

  • 7X more annual deaths than cervical cancer

  • 4X more annual deaths than melanoma of the skin

Source: NIH National Cancer Institute

Surveillance, Epidemelogy, and End Results Program


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Types of Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer encompasses several different malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses, and mouth.

​Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.  Cancer only found in the squamous layer of cells is called carcinoma in situ. If the cancer has grown beyond this cell layer and moved into the deeper tissue, then it is called invasive squamous cell carcinoma. 

​There are five main types of head and neck cancer, each named according to the part of the body where they develop:

  1. Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer. The larynx is commonly called the voice box and is essential for breathing, talking, and swallowing. It is located at the top of the windpipe, or trachea. 

  2.  Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer. The nasal cavity is the space just behind the nose where air passes on its way to the throat. The paranasal sinuses are the air-filled areas that surround the nasal cavity. 

  3.  Nasopharyngeal cancer. The nasopharynx is the air passageway at the upper part of the throat behind the nose. 

  4.  Oral and oropharyngeal cancer. The oral cavity includes the mouth and tongue. The oropharynx consists of the middle of the throat, from the tonsils to the tip of the voice box. 

  5. Salivary gland cancer. The salivary gland produces saliva. 

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​While Head & Neck cancer rates have decreased by 50% in the US, primarily related to the reduction of tobacco-related cancers, the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has increased by 225% over the past 30 years.  OPC is the most common cancer in the United States caused by HPV, even outpacing cervical cancer rates in recent years.

Reference:  Head and Neck Alliance