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Head and Neck Cancers

What are Head and Neck Cancers?

Head and neck cancers are cancers that occur in the areas of the head and neck, such as the mouth, nose, throat, larynx, sinuses, or salivary glands.

Mouth cancer affects the lips, the tongue, the gums, the cheek lining, the lips, the bottom of the mouth, under the tongue, and the hard palate.

The pharynx is a tube that starts behind the nose and leads to the esophagus. It comprises of  the nasopharynx; the oropharynx and the hypopharynx.

The larynx is the voicebox and contains the vocal cords. It also has  the epiglottis, which helps to cover the larynx during eating to prevent food from entering the air passages.

The paranasal sinuses are spaces in the bones of the head surrounding the nose. The nasal cavity is the space inside the nose.

The major salivary glands produce saliva and are in the mouth and near the jawbone.

What are the symptoms of Head and Neck Cancers?


  • Bleeding 
  • Impaired tongue mobility
  • Red or white patches in your mouth, gums and tongue
  • Swelling in your jaw


  • Pain when swallowing
  • Persistent headaches and pain in the neck 
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Trouble breathing or speaking

Voice Box

  • Changes in your voice 
  • Ear pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Pain when swallowing

Paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity

  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds 
  • Persistent blocked sinuses
  • Swelling around the eyes

Salivary glands

  • Numbness of facial muscles
  • Persistent pain in your face, chin, or neck
  • Swelling around the jawbone

How are Head and Neck Cancers diagnosed?

biopsy is done to check the lining of the mouth, tongue and roof of the mouth for signs of cancer.

Blood Test
A complete blood count blood test will be done to check for white blood cell increase which could be a sign of cancer. 

Imaging Tests
Imaging tests are done with ultrasound or CT scan to check the mouth, tongue, jaw and throat areas for signs of cancer.

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