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Head, Neck & Throat Cancer Symptoms

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-04-02 (Revised/Updated 2015-12-01) - Information regarding symptoms of head and neck carcinoma, cancer tumors in the head or neck region - Disabled World (Disabled World).

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Quote: "Head and neck cancers are strongly associated with environmental and lifestyle risk factors, including tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and certain strains of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus."

Head and neck cancers are a group of biologically similar cancers originating from the upper aerodigestive tract, including the lip, mouth, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, pharynx and larynx that affect more than 45,000 individuals in the U.S. each year.

Head and neck cancers are strongly associated with environmental and lifestyle risk factors, including tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and certain strains of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus. Using tobacco or alcohol increases your risk. In fact, 85 percent of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use, including smoking and smokeless tobacco.

Alternate Names:

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, nose, tonsils, tongue, throat, or larynx (voice box)

Adenocarcinoma of the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, nose, tonsils, tongue, throat, or larynx (voice box)

Squamous Cell Cancer of the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, nose, tonsils, tongue, throat, or larynx (voice box)

Metastatic Squamous Cell Neck Cancer; Metastatic Squamous Cell Neck Carcinoma; Head and Neck Carcinomas.

Head and neck cancers symptoms include:

  • Ear ache
  • Neck pain
  • Bad breath
  • Sore tongue
  • Mass in the neck
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing food
  • Change in diet or weight loss
  • Lump in the lip, mouth or gums
  • Enlarged lymph glands in the neck
  • Unusual bleeding or numbness in the mouth
  • Sore throat which persists for more than six weeks
  • Hoarse voice which persists for more than six weeks
  • Painless ulcer or sores in the mouth that do not heal
  • Slurring of speech (if the cancer is affecting the tongue)
  • White, red or dark patches in the mouth that will not go away
  • Sinus congestion, especially with nasopharyngeal carcinoma

The following may be used to diagnose the disease: physical exam and history, endoscopy, laboratory tests including blood and urine analysis, x-rays, CT scan, biopsy, MRI, and/or PET scan.

Head and neck cancer is highly curable if detected early, usually with some form of surgery although chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also play an important role.

Treatment may include surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy. These treatments may affect eating, speaking, or even breathing.

When cancer of any of the sites is advanced, the prognosis is very poor.

Related Information:

  1. New Treatment Safe for Head and Neck Cancer Patients
  2. Racial Disparities in Head and Neck Cancer
  3. High Dosage Brachytherapy for Head and Neck Cancer Tumors


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