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Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers comprise about 3-5% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States.1 Most head and neck cancers appear in the mouth, nose and throat. These cancers are defined by the general areas in which they appear, including the oral cavity, voice box, pharynx, tonsils, saliva glands, sinuses, nasal cavity and lymph nodes. A full 85% of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use.1

Early signs and symptoms differ depending on where the cancer is located. Oral cancer may appear as red or white patches in the mouth, jaw swelling or unusual bleeding or pain. Pain while wearing dentures is often the first sign of oral or other head cancers.

Cancer of the voice box may result in pain when swallowing or speaking. Cancer of the nasal cavity and sinuses can lead to chronic nosebleeds, upper jaw pain or chronic sinus infections that fail to respond to antibiotics. Tonsil cancer may result in ear pain. Cancer of the salivary glands can manifest as swelling of the jaw or chin, facial paralysis or facial pain that does not go away. Persistent neck pain can be a sign of metastatic squamous neck cancer.

The head and neck cancer surgeons at Fox Chase Cancer Center and Temple University Hospital work in concert with medical and radiation oncologists, reconstructive surgeons, endocrinologists, head and neck radiologists, maxillofacial specialists and rehabilitation specialists to accurately diagnose and effectively treat head and neck cancers.

Video: Head and Neck Cancer

Jeffrey Liu, MD, a surgeon with the Temple Head & Neck Institute, provides an overview of head and neck cancers, their various symptoms, and different treatment options available.

1National Cancer Institute