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Head and Neck FAQ

Are there specific risk factors for head and neck cancer?

Yes, as many as 90 percent of head and neck cancers arise after prolonged exposure to specific factors. Use of tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco or snuff) and alcoholic beverages are closely linked with cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, and tongue. (In adults who neither smoke nor drink, cancers of the mouth and throat are nearly nonexistent.) Prolonged exposure to sunlight is linked with cancer of the lip and is also an established major cause of skin cancer.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis?

  • Swelling of the tonsils
  • Tonsils are redder than normal
  • A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
  • A slight voice change due to swelling
  • Sore throat
  • Uncomfortable or painful swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck
  • Fever
  • Bad breath

What are the symptoms of enlarged adenoids?

  • Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose most of the time
  • Nose sounds “blocked” when the person speaks
  • Noisy breathing during the day
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Snoring at night
  • Breathing stops for a few seconds at night during snoring or loud breathing (sleep apnea)

When is the removal of tonsils and/or adenoids recommended?

The two primary reasons for removal of tonsils and/or adenoids are:

  • recurrent infection despite antibiotic therapy
  • difficulty breathing due to enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids

Recent studies also indicate the removal of adenoids is a beneficial treatment for some children with fluid in the middle ear.