Head and Neck Cancer Diagnosis

An accurate head and neck cancer diagnosis is the first step in ensuring appropriate and effective treatment. When detected early, many forms of head and neck cancer can be managed and even cured. In Moffitt Cancer Center’s renowned Head and Neck Cancer Program, we offer a full range of diagnostic tests in a single, convenient location. Our multispecialty team of experts evaluates each patient’s results, providing the benefit of multiple expert opinions without the need for referrals.

To determine the cause of signs or symptoms that develop in the head and neck area and rule out or confirm a head and neck cancer diagnosis, a physician will usually:

  • Review a patient’s medical history
  • Perform a physical examination
  • Use a flexible, lighted tube called an endoscope to examine areas of the head and neck that are otherwise inaccessible
  • Order one or more diagnostic tests
  • Perform a biopsy to obtain a tissue or fluid sample for evaluation under a microscope

If head or neck cancer is diagnosed, the next step is to determine its stage or extent. Staging provides important information on whether a cancer has spread and, if so, to which parts of the body, and therefore can help a physician plan the optimal course of treatment. The staging process may require an X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, PET scans, laboratory tests and an examination performed while a patient is under anesthesia.

Moffitt’s researchers and clinicians continue to pave the way in finding new and better methods of diagnosing and treating head and neck cancer. As part of the treatment process at Moffitt, many of our patients are offered opportunities to participate in clinical trials, allowing them to access new therapies that are not yet readily available elsewhere. As a result, our survival rates consistently outrank national averages and our patients have higher-quality lives. In recognition of our efforts, the National Cancer Institute designated Moffitt a Comprehensive Cancer Center – the only such center based in Florida.

If you’d like to learn more about the techniques that can be used to confirm a head and neck cancer diagnosis, the experts at Moffitt can help. Call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online.