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Palliative issues in the care of patients with cancer of the head and neck 

Palliative issues in the care of patients with cancer of the head and neck
Palliative issues in the care of patients with cancer of the head and neck

Barbara A. Murphy

, Lauren A. Zatarain

, Anthony J. Cmelak

, Steven Bayles

, Ellie Dowling

, Cheryl R. Billante

, Sheila Ridner

, Kirsten Haman

, Stewart Bond

, Anne Marie Flores

, Wisawatapnimit Panarut

, and Bethany M. Andrews

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date: 16 May 2022

Head and neck cancer (HNC) refers to tumours arising from the epithelial lining of the upper aerodigestive track, including the oral cavity, larynx, pharynx, paranasal sinuses, and salivary glands. There are 50,000 cases of HNC diagnosed annually within the United States. The majority of tumours (> 90%) are squamous cell carcinomas. Risk factors include tobacco, alcohol, and areca nuts; human papilloma virus (HPV) or Epstein-Barr virus; and mucosal irritation. Previously considered to be a disease of older adults, the epidemic of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers has led to a striking increase in HNC among middle-aged adults. Symptoms are usually present at the time of diagnosis and remain problematic through the terminal phase. For those patients who are cured, long-term biopsychosocial sequelae may persist for years. Thus, assessment and treatment of palliative issues is an intrinsic and vital component of care for the HNC patient.

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