How do ENT patients feel about other types

Diagnostic options for ENT tumors

Types of cancer of the head and neck that are treated at the Greifswald University Hospital, Ear, Nose and Throat

  • Nose and sinuses
  • lip
  • tongue
  • Floor of the mouth
  • Palatine almond and palate
  • throat
  • Larynx
  • Upper esophagus
  • windpipe
  • Middle ear
  • Ear canal and auricle
  • Skull base
  • Cervical soft tissues
  • Skin of the head and face
  • Examination with flexible and rigid endoscopes
  • Stroboscopy of the vocal folds
  • Ultrasound of the salivary glands and neck
  • X-ray, computer tomography, magnetic resonance tomography (by the radiological institute of the clinic)
  • Surgical removal of the tumor
  • Laser surgery
  • Microsurgical operations
  • Plastic surgery for defects in the face, nose and ears
  • Reconstructive operations for defects in the pharynx and larynx
  • Radiation therapy (by the clinic's radiation therapy clinic)
  • chemotherapy

In Germany around 347,000 patients develop cancer every year. Around 390 men and 300 women per 100,000 population are affected. Of these new cases, cancers of the head and neck represent 6.3% of all new tumors. This corresponds to an incidence rate of 24.5 patients per 100,000 male population. This puts these emerging tumors in fourth place in male patients after prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. The incidence of developing head and neck tumors in women is much lower than in men, but has been increasing in recent years.


The largest number (95%) of tumors in the head and neck area are squamous cell carcinomas. This type of cancer develops in the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and food tract (nose, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, trachea). In most cases, chronic irritation of the mucous membrane from heavy smoking and alcohol consumption is the cause of the development of cancer. From a starting point in the mucous membrane, the cancer can grow in size and spread (metastases) to the surrounding area, the throat or other parts of the body.


Not all neoplasms in the head and neck area are malignant. Benign diseases can also cause similar symptoms. The decision between good and bad is often not possible with the naked eye, X-rays or ultrasound. In this case, the exact clarification should be entrusted to an experienced ENT doctor.


Head and neck cancer can manifest itself in a number of ways. General symptoms are severe weight loss within a short period of time, fatigue and night sweats. In the area of ​​the origin of the cancer, the symptoms differ depending on the location of the tumor.


Tumors of the nose and sinuses

These cancers can cause nasal obstruction, nosebleeds, a feeling of pressure in the nose or face, headaches, or impaired smell and taste. There may also be a foul smelling odor. With extensive growth it can happen that a previously well-fitting upper jaw prosthesis no longer fits perfectly. A more detailed ENT medical examination should follow in this regard.


Tumors of the lips, oral cavity and tongue

The first symptoms of this type of cancer are swallowing and chewing difficulties. A change in the skin or mucous membrane is often visible to the naked eye in front of the mirror. A crack or a bite wound in the skin or mucous membrane that does not heal within a few days should therefore be a reason to consult an ear, nose and throat specialist. A denture that no longer fits can be an expression of a new formation in the area of ​​the upper and / or lower jaw and should also be checked by an ENT doctor.


Tumors of the throat and esophagus

Difficulties swallowing, which are triggered by the growth in size of the tumor, are in the foreground here. They usually develop slowly and are initially ignored. Difficulty swallowing, however, is not normal and should always be clarified.


Tumors of the larynx and trachea

The growth on structures that are important for voice training leads to hoarseness and loss of voice relatively early. In the course of the disease, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath or difficulty swallowing may occur. The hoarseness is often interpreted as a delayed cold. The iron rule here is that hoarseness that persists for more than 4 weeks must be examined by an ENT specialist.


Salivary gland tumors

In this type of cancer, the patient usually sees an increase in the size of the tumor. This change is often noticeable while shaving or washing. Typical locations for this are the region in front of the ear or under the chin. If the parotid gland is involved, facial paralysis can occur as the facial nerve runs through the salivary gland and can be damaged by tumor growth.


Facial skin tumors

Changes in the skin of the face can develop into skin cancer. Such a tumor is different in color from the surrounding skin and has a different surface texture. The skin is easily vulnerable at this point and bleeds frequently. In the event of such abnormalities, it is advisable to have the skin area diagnosed by taking a sample or removing it.


Metastases on the neck

In some cases, the original tumor does not cause any symptoms and the first symptom is swelling in the neck area. These swellings are firm, cannot be moved under the skin and can become inflamed and painful. As soon as a swelling is noticed on the neck, an ENT doctor should be seen and further evaluation should be carried out.


If you have any of the above symptoms and therefore suspect a tumor in the head and neck area, we advise you to see an ENT specialist. If necessary, he will refer you to our clinic.


Admission to our clinic takes place via our polyclinic. There you will be examined for the first time, your existing findings will be viewed and the next steps will be discussed with you. Depending on the urgency of your illness, you will be admitted to our clinic as an inpatient. A number of examinations will be carried out on you there. This includes an examination of the airways and food routes with taking a sample from the suspect area. The examination is carried out under general anesthesia. If you were awake, your gag reflex would prevent a full examination. The sample taken is sent to the university's pathological institute for examination. This can take several days. In the meantime, further examinations will be carried out as needed to identify the spread and possible settling of the tumor. This includes an ultrasound scan of the neck and abdomen, computer or magnetic resonance imaging of the neck and, if necessary, of the lungs, a skeletal examination and an X-ray of the lungs. As soon as all the findings are available, we will discuss the findings and the next steps with you in a detailed conversation.


Depending on the type and extent of the cancer and the general state of health and ideas of the patient, there are in principle several therapy options.


Operative therapy

In our clinic, it is possible to remove the tumor from the outside through the mouth, endoscopically, or by opening the neck. Modern laser technology is also used in endoscopic operations. If the resulting defect becomes very large after the tumor has been removed and complications are to be expected, skin from the neck, shoulder, chest or forearm is transplanted into the throat and the function of the throat is restored. With advanced tumor growth or with settlements in the soft tissue of the neck (metastases), the cervical lymph nodes are removed (neck dissection). In the case of smaller skin tumors in the facial area, it is possible to cover the defect caused by the operation with plastic skin grafting and possibly to reconstruct cartilaginous structures (nose, auricle) in a cosmetically satisfactory manner. The extent of the operation will be discussed with you in advance based on the examinations carried out.


Radiation therapy

As an alternative, in some cases the cancer can be irradiated instead of surgery. After all the examinations have been completed, a detailed discussion will be given with the patient as to whether the diagnosed cancer is an option. This therapy is carried out by the radiation therapy department, which is located in the same building. Close cooperation between the disciplines is guaranteed for the benefit of the patient.



Treatment with chemotherapeutic agents is available as a further therapy option. Depending on the patient's state of health, the medication can be administered via the vein alone or in combination with radiation. We often recommend this type of combined therapy after surgery.


After successful cancer treatment, you will remain under our regular control. For this you will receive appointments for aftercare in our polyclinic. This follow-up care is important in order to detect a recurrence of the cancer in good time and to take appropriate measures.


Cancer of the head and neck is a serious and life-threatening condition. Unfortunately, despite modern diagnostic and therapeutic methods, it is not possible to cure all patients. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better the chances of recovery. It is therefore particularly important that you get an examination as soon as you notice the symptoms mentioned above. There is a chance of defeating head and neck cancer. We would like to help you to seize this opportunity and would like to support you with medical and human competence to make your way through the disease.

Please keep in mind that we can only help you if you contact us!