When squamous cell cancer
spreads to lymph nodes
in the neck or around the collarbone, it is called metastatic
squamous neck cancer. The doctor will try to find the primary tumor
(the cancer that first formed in the body), because
treatment for metastatic cancer is the same as treatment for the
For example, when lung cancer
spreads to the neck, the cancer cells in the neck are lung cancer cells and they are
treated the same as the cancer in the lung. Sometimes doctors cannot find where in the body the cancer first began to grow. When tests cannot find a primary tumor, it is called an occult (hidden) primary tumor. In many cases, the primary tumor is never found.
Signs and symptoms of metastatic squamous neck cancer with occult
primary include a lump or pain in the neck or throat.
Check with your doctor if you have a lump or pain in your neck or throat
that doesn't go away. These and other signs
may be caused by
metastatic squamous neck cancer with occult primary. Other conditions
may cause the same signs and symptoms.
Tests that examine the tissues of the neck, respiratory tract, and upper part of the digestive tract are used
to detect (find) and diagnose metastatic squamous neck cancer and the
Tests will include checking for a primary tumor in the organs and tissues of the respiratory tract (part of the trachea), the upper part of the digestive tract (including the lips, mouth, tongue, nose, throat, vocal cords, and part of the esophagus), and the genitourinary system.
The following procedures may be used:
and history: An exam of the body, especially the head and neck, to check general signs of health. This includes checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
Biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope
by a pathologist
or tested in the laboratory to check for signs of cancer.
Endoscopy: A procedure to look at organs and tissues inside the body to check for abnormal
areas. An endoscope
is inserted through an incision
(cut) in the skin or opening in the body, such as the mouth or nose. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens
for viewing. It may also have a tool to remove abnormal tissue or lymph node samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of disease. The nose, throat, back of the tongue, esophagus, stomach, voice box, windpipe, and large airways will be checked.
One or more of the following laboratory tests
may be done to study the tissue samples:
Immunohistochemistry: A test that uses antibodies
to check for certain antigens
in a sample of blood or bone marrow. The antibody is usually linked to a radioactive
substance or a dye that causes the tissue to light up under a microscope. This type of test may be used to tell the difference between different types of cancer.
and electron microscopy: A test in which cells in a sample of tissue are viewed under regular and high-powered microscopes to look for certain changes in the cells.
(magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).
(CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye
may be injected
into a vein
or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
(positron emission tomography scan): A procedure to find malignanttumor
cells in the body. A small amount of radioactive glucose
(sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET scanner
rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells do. A whole body PET scan and a CT scan are done at the same time to look for where the cancer first formed. If there is any cancer, this increases the chance that it will be found.
of occult primary tumor is made if the primary tumor is not found during testing or treatment.
Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.