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Head and Neck Cancer

Summary

Head and neck cancer includes cancers of the mouth, nose, sinuses, salivary glands, throat, and lymph nodes in the neck. Most begin in the moist tissues that line the mouth, nose, and throat. Symptoms include

  • A lump or sore that does not heal
  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A change or hoarseness in the voice

Head and neck cancers are twice as common in men. Using tobacco or alcohol increases your risk. In fact, around 75 percent of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use, including smoking and smokeless tobacco. Infection with HPV is a risk factor for some head and neck cancers.

To diagnose head and neck cancer, your doctor will do a physical exam and diagnostic tests. You will have a biopsy, where a sample of tissue is taken out and examined under a microscope. It is the only test that can tell for sure if you have cancer.

If found early, these cancers are often curable. Treatments may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination. Treatments can affect eating, speaking or even breathing, so patients may need rehabilitation.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Start Here

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Symptoms

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)

Diagnosis and Tests

  • Video (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • Video (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)
  • (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Related Issues

  • (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research) Also in
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Specifics

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)

Genetics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Library of Medicine)

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Find an Expert

  • (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • (American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery)
  • From the National Institutes of Health Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute) Also in

Patient Handouts

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