Squamous cells are cells that line moist, mucosal surfaces. These surfaces are usually located in the head and neck regions. You can find them inside the mouth, the nose and the throat.
Cancers that occur on the neck and head areas usually begin in the squamous cell carcinoma lymph nodes. They are also collectively termed neck and head cancer. The cancer usually starts in the squamous cells and once they become cancerous, they are often occur at the squamous cell carcinoma lymph nodes. This phenomena is often referred to as as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck.
Squamous cell carcinoma lymph nodes cancer can also begin in the salivary glands, but this is relatively uncommon. The salivary gland-type of cancer is broken into different subsets because of the many different types of cells that are prone to cancer, being found in the salivary glands.
How head and neck cancers are categorized, is dependent on where they begin. If they start at the lips, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the lining inside the cheeks and lips or the gums, they are usually called oral cavity cancer. This also includes The floor or bottom of the mouth under the tongue, the bony top of the mouth, which is the hard palate, as well as behind the wisdom teeth where there is a small area at the gum.
For pharynx cancers, they start at the pharynx region. The pharynx is a 5-inch hollow tube that begins behind the nose and moves down all the way to the esophagus. The pharynx has three parts; the nasopharynx, the oropharynx and the hypopharynx . The nasopharynx is the upper part of the pharynx that resides just behind the nose. The oropharynx is the middle portion of the pharynx that encompasses the soft palate at the back of the mouth. This also includes the base of the tongue and the tonsils. The hypopharynx refers to the lower part of the pharynx. Any cancer at these areas are labeled pharynx cancer.
Larynx cancers start at the larynx, or the voice box. This is a short passageway that is formed by cartilage and lies just below the pharynx in the neck area. Besides the voice box, the larynx also houses the vocal chords. At this position, there is a small flap called the epiglottis and this flap moves to cover the larynx to prevent food from entering the air passages and into the lungs. We may eat and breathe using the same passageway, but it is this epiglottis that regulates the movement of air and food and sorts them into the proper channels, ensuring that we do not choke. Any cancer that occurs here is termed larynx cancer.
Paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity cancers start at the paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity region. The paranasal sinuses are small hollow spaces usually found in the bones of the head where the nose is. The nasal cavity are the hollow spaces inside the nose where mucus is formed and resides. Any cancer that begins here is known as paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity cancer.
Any cancer that starts at the major salivary glands where saliva is produced, in the floor of the mouth, close to the jawbone are diagnosed as salivary gland cancers.