GRACE :: Head/Neck Cancer

Late Stage Oropharynx Cancer, Introduction and Management by Dr. Geoffrey Geiger

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Graphic of lymphatic areas in the neckDr. Geoffrey Geiger, University of Pennsylvania, provides an introduction to head and neck cancer and the human papilloma virus.


Late Stage Oropharynx Cancer, Introduction and Management Audio Podcast


What you will hear in part 1

  • Oropharynx cancer basics
  • Risk factors; and 
  • The role of HPV


Glossary of terms you will hear in part 1

For other cancer-related definitions, visit the National Cancer Institute’s online glossary at

  • Chemotherapy – Treatment with drugs that kill cancer cells.
  • Carcinogen – Any substance that causes cancer.
  • Cisplatin – A drug used to treat malignant head and neck cancer. Cisplatin contains the metal platinum. It kills cancer cells by damaging their DNA and stopping them from dividing.
  • Definitive treatment – The treatment plan for a disease or disorder that has been chosen as the best one for a patient after all other choices have been considered.
  • Human Papilloma Virus/HPV – A type of virus that can cause abnormal tissue growth (for example, warts) and other changes to cells. Infection for a long time with certain types of HPV can cause cervical cancer. HPV may also play a role in some other types of cancer, such as anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, oropharyngeal, and squamous cell skin cancers. Also called human papillomavirus.
  • Lymph node – A rounded mass of lymphatic tissue that is surrounded by a capsule of connective tissue. Lymph nodes filter lymph (lymphatic fluid), and they store lymphocytes (white blood cells). They are located along lymphatic vessels. Also called lymph gland.
  • Multi-disciplinary – In medicine, a term used to describe a treatment planning approach or team that includes a number of doctors and other health care professionals who are experts in different specialties (disciplines). In cancer treatment, the primary disciplines are medical oncology (treatment with drugs), surgical oncology (treatment with surgery), and radiation oncology (treatment with radiation).
  • Oropharynx/Oropharyngeal cancer – Cancer that forms in tissues of the oropharynx (the part of the throat at the back of the mouth, including the soft palate, the base of the tongue, and the tonsils). Most oropharyngeal cancers are squamous cell carcinomas (cancer that begins in flat cells lining the oropharynx).
  • Premalignant cancer – A term used to describe a condition that may (or is likely to) become cancer. Also called precancerous.
  • Prophylactic – In medicine, something that prevents or protects.
  • Radiation therapy/Radiotherapy – The use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, protons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation may come from a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance, such as a radiolabeled monoclonal antibody, that travels in the blood to tissues throughout the body. 
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – Cancer of the head and neck that begins in squamous cells (thin, flat cells that form the surface of the skin, eyes, various internal organs, and the lining of hollow organs and ducts of some glands). Squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck includes cancers of the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, and larynx (voice box). Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.


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