Tests And Diagnosis

The first appointment you have will be with the doctor and this involves obtaining a history of your symptoms and general health along with examination.

This can sometimes include a procedure called nasendoscopy (this is a test where a trained member of the team will use a flexible tube with a camera at the end to look at the back of your mouth, nose, pharynx and larynx. It is normally passed down the nose to the area at the back of the mouth). Further tests (biopsy and scans to obtain detailed information about the cancer) are arranged following that appointment. There are various tests that might be required to diagnose head and neck cancer.

These may include any of the following:

  • A biopsy when a doctor takes a sample of cells or tissue from the lump or area that looks abnormal.
  • An examination under general anaesthetic which will involve a thin tube is passed down the throat to examine it and take a biopsy.
  • A CT scan - this is a more sophisticated X-ra that takes a 360 degree        Graphics courtesy of Calderdale and    image of the spine, vertebrae and internal organs                                                  Huddersfield NHS Trust
  • multiscan image.jpgAn MRI, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging and combines a strong magnet with radio waves. The doctor views the images as “slices” or cross-sections of the scanned body part. Unlike x-rays, there’s no radiation involved.
  • A nasendoscopy which involves a thin, flexible tube with a light at the end that is passed into the nose and into the throat.
  • A PET CT scan helps the physician to see the level of activity of certain body organs and tissues, along with their structure. You’ll receive a substance called a “tracer” containing glucose with a little bit of radioactive material. The tracer will be swallowed, inhaled or injected, depending on the examined body part.
  • An ultrasound scan of an affected area, where a biopsy may be taken at the same time.