Head & Neck Cancer

Diagnosis of Head & Neck Cancer

To establish a diagnosis of head and neck cancer, your GP may refer you to an ear nose & throat (ENT) specialist for examination. They may use a small mirror or a nasendoscope, a flexible telescope, to view the inside of your throat.

If your throat needs to be examined in more detail, then the specialist may recommend you are examined under general anaesthetic. This will normally be a day-procedure and you will not need to stay in hospital overnight.

The doctor may also take a biopsy, a small sample of tissue, from any suspicious areas for further examination.

You may have other tests, which include a CT scan, MRI scan or PET/CT. The information from these tests is used to assess the size of the cancer and how far it has spread. This is called ‘staging’. Your doctors need to know the extent of the cancer to help them decide on the most appropriate treatment for you.

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