Vaughn, a Charlotte, NC, father of two, was 47 and in good health when he felt the lump on his neck, just above his left collarbone. It turned out to be a tumor in a lymph node. He had it removed, and the pathology report showed it was squamous cell carcinoma -- a type of cancer that usually starts on your skin or in your mouth or throat. Tests also showed that the cancer had spread beyond the lymph node, so Vaughn would need follow-up treatment.
Knowing where the cancer had started could help doctors determine the best way to treat it. Vaughn traveled to some of the best-known cancer centers in the U.S., undergoing tests and looking for answers. He even had his tonsils removed as a preventive measure. “Nobody seemed to know where the cancer started,” he said. “So there were differing opinions on what course of treatment to pursue.”
Still unsure but wanting to take the most cautious approach, Vaughn scheduled surgery followed by radiation at a cancer center far from home. Because there was no specific cancer site to target, the radiation would cover a large part of Vaughn’s mouth and throat.