Cancers in this region include:
- Oral cavity cancer involves the lips, tongue, the floor of the mouth, the hard and soft palates, or the gums.
- Laryngeal cancer involves the voice box.
- Pharyngeal cancer involves any part of the throat except for the voice box.
- Salivary gland cancer involves the salivary glands.
Causes of Head and Neck Cancer
Tobacco use of any kind, alcohol use, exposure to industrial toxins, a diet high in red meats and processed foods, human papillomavirus (HPV), Epstein-Barr virus and acid reflux may all cause head or neck cancer.
Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer
Many symptoms of head and neck cancer are associated with other conditions. Make an appointment with a doctor for a thorough exam and diagnosis if any of the following symptoms are persistent:
- Chronic cough (especially if you are coughing up blood)
- Hoarseness or other changes in your voice
- Difficulty swallowing
- Lumps on the neck
- Sore throat lasting more than a month
- Unexplained weight loss
Diagnosing Head and Neck Cancer
Your doctor will perform a thorough head and neck examination and may perform or order a biopsy. Imaging tests including CT scans, MRIs and PET scans may help diagnose your condition. Once you receive a diagnosis, your doctor will work with you to determine what course of treatment to pursue. Your doctor may also refer you to physicians specializing in head and neck cancer surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Treatment for head and neck cancer depends on the tumor’s size, location and whether it has spread to other areas of the body. Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy or a combination of these procedures.