Health Questions and Answers

Question: Describe the evaluation and initial staging of patients with head and neck cancer?

Answer:

Initial staging of head and neck cancer includes a thorough triple endoscopy of upper and lower airway and upper aerodigestive tract, with biopsy of any suspicious lesions. Measurement and biopsy, if indicated, of any cervical or supraclavicular nodes should be performed. A CT scan of the area helps to determine the extent of disease. CT of the chest should be done to evaluate for pulmonary or hepatic metastases.

Reference:  American Joint Committee on Cancer: Cancer Staging Manual, 6th ed. New York, Springer-Verlag, 2002.

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