What Is Neck Cancer?
There are a number of rare benign and malignant tumors that can originate in structures in the neck. These include sarcomas and rare conditions that involve nerves or lymph nodes. Treatment is tailored to the nature of the problem, the extent of involvement, and other medical and personal factors.
Occasionally there is a cancer that presents in the neck without a prior history of skin cancer or cancer elsewhere and without signs or suggesting from whence it arose.
Sometimes a prior malignancy controlled by prior intervention manifests as new spread to a lymph node in the neck. When this happens a complete head and neck physical exam may reveal the origin, but not always. When it does not, a fine needle aspirate biopsy (FNA) is usually sufficient to establish the nature of the neck mass. Management depends on the extent of involvement in the neck and elsewhere, and whether there has been prior neck irradiation.
Metastatic squamous neck cancer with occult primary
When the lymph nodes in the neck are found to contain squamous cell cancer, a doctor will try to find out where the cancer started (the primary tumor). If the doctor cannot find a primary tumor, the cancer is called a metastatic cancer with unseen (occult) primary.