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INTRODUCTION

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Cancers of the head and neck are composed of a spectrum of malignant neoplasms. Most commonly, however, "head and neck cancer" refers to epithelial carcinomas, squamous cell cancers, and their variant histologic subtypes that arise from the mucosal surfaces of the upper aerodigestive tract and constitute over 85% of the cancers encountered in this region. Those caring for patients with head and neck neoplasms must be conversant with the variable natural histories and approaches to treatment for the many different malignant tumors that arise within this region.

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Cancers of the head and neck are traditionally divided into nine distinct anatomic regions from which mucosal cancers originate (Table 68-1). Other neoplastic conditions can arise within these regions and associated areas, such as the base of skull, orbit, and neck itself, including primary tumors of the major or minor salivary glands, the skin, the thyroid or parathyroid glands, and nonepithelial tissues of the neck. Sarcomas and hematologic malignancies are also encountered in the head and neck region. Representative histopathologies encountered in clinical practice are recorded in Table 68-2. This chapter will focus on the most common cancer of the region, namely squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN).

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Table Graphic Jump Location
TABLE 68-1HEAD AND NECK PRIMARY SITES
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Table Graphic Jump Location
TABLE 68-2HEAD AND NECK NEOPLASMS

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