Head and neck cancer is cancer of the oral cavity, salivary glands, paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, or lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck. These cancers account for 3% to 5% of cancers in the U.S. Tobacco and alcohol use are important risk factors. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy. Read more: Head and Neck Cancer Article
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Head and Neck Cancer Quiz
Learn the facts about head and neck cancers.
Cancer-Fighting Foods in Pictures: Resveratrol, Green Tea, and More
Experts have praised certain foods for their ability to reduce cancer risks. Learn which foods and eating strategies may help...
Understanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, and More
Learn the basics about cancer including types, causes, how it spreads, symptoms and signs, stages and treatment options. Read...
Head and Neck Cancers: Symptoms and Treatments
Head and neck cancers include cancers of the throat, lips, nose, mouth, larynx, and salivary glands. They are more likely to...
Smartphone Dangers: Could Your Cell Phone Be Bad for Your Health?
Smartphones are associated with some health dangers, but exposure to cell phone radiation does not lead to brain cancer, brain...
Related Disease Conditions
Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes chronic inflammation of the spine. The tendency to develop ankylosing spondylitis is genetically inherited. Treatment incorporates medications, physical therapy, and exercise.
Cancer Risk Factors
Though it's difficult to say why some people develop cancer while others don't, research shows that certain risk factors increase a person's odds of developing cancer. These risk factors include growing older, family history of cancer, diet, alcohol and tobacco use, and exposure to sunlight, ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, and some viruses and bacteria.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts six months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Genital Warts (HPV) Infection in Women
Genital warts is a sexually transmitted infection (STI, STD) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is the most common STD in the US. The warts can appear anywhere on the skin where sexual contact has occurred. The warts look like raised, flesh-colored lumps or bumps that have a cauliflower-like appearance. Signs and symptoms of genital warts in women include vaginal, vulva, or groin pain, itching, and burning where the wart(s) is. Treatment can remove warts or lesions, but it does not prevent spread of the virus, and the warts usually grow back. Removing genital warts does not prevent the infection from spreading elsewhere on the body. There is no cure for genital warts, and there is no vaccine to prevent them; however, there is a vaccine to prevent infection from four common types of HPV. Gardasil vaccine available for female adolescents and teens to prevent HPV infection and cervical cancer.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a GI (gastrointestinal) disorder with signs and symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, increased gas (flatulence), abdominal cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and food intolerance.Two new tests are now available that may help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea and constipation (IBS-M) irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D), and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C). Treatment for IBS includes diet changes, medications, and other lifestyle changes to manage symptoms.
Larynx Cancer (Throat Cancer)
Symptoms and signs of cancer of the larynx, the organ at the front of the neck, include hoarseness, a lump in the neck, sore throat, cough, problems breathing, bad breath, earache, and weight loss. Treatment for larynx cancer depends on the stage (the extent) of the disease. Radiation therapy, surgery, and chemotherapy are all forms of treatment for laryngeal cancer.
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness, which is spread by ticks when they bite the skin. Initially the disease affects the skin causing a reddish rash associated with flu-like symptoms. It takes weeks to months after the initial redness of the skin for its effects to spread throughout the body. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease can be prevented by using tick avoidance techniques.
Migraine headache is a type of headache associated with a sensitivity to light, smells, or sounds, eye pain, severe pounding on one side of the head, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. The exact cause of migraine headaches is not known. Triggers for migraine headaches include certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, strong stimuli (loud noises), and oversleeping. Treatment guidelines for migraines include medicine, pain management, diet changes, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, staying hydrated, getting adequate sleep, and exercising regularly. Prevention of migraine triggers include getting regular exercise, drinking water daily, reducing stress, and avoiding trigger foods.
The term oral cancer includes cancer of the mouth (oral cavity) and the back of the mouth (oropharynx). Red and white patches inside the mouth, bleeding, loose teeth, pain upon swallowing, a lump in the neck, earache, and a sore on your lip or in your mouth that won't heal are all symptoms of oral cancer. Treatment for oral cancer depends upon the staging of the disease and usually involves surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Sore throat (throat pain) usually is described as pain or discomfort in the throat area. A sore throat may be caused by bacterial infections, viral infections, toxins, irritants, trauma, or injury to the throat area. Common symptoms of a sore throat include a fever, cough, runny nose, hoarseness, earaches, sneezing, and body aches. Home remedies for a sore throat include warm soothing liquids and throat lozenges. OTC remedies for a sore throat include OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Antibiotics may be necessary for some cases of sore throat.
Stress occurs when forces from the outside world impinge on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life. However, over-stress, can be harmful. There is now speculation, as well as some evidence, that points to the abnormal stress responses as being involved in causing various diseases or conditions.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. When only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Anemia is the condition of having less than the normal number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. The oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is, therefore, decreased. There are several types of anemia such as iron deficiency anemia (the most common type), sickle cell anemia, vitamin B12 anemia, pernicious anemia, and aplastic anemia. Symptoms of anemia may include fatigue, malaise, hair loss, palpitations, menstruation, and medications. Treatment for anemia includes treating the underlying cause for the condition. Iron supplements, vitamin B12 injections, and certain medications may also be necessary.
Neck Pain (Cervical Pain)
Neck pain (cervical pain) may be caused by any number of disorders and diseases. Tenderness is another symptom of neck pain. Though treatment for neck pain really depends upon the cause, treatment typically may involve heat/ice application, traction, physical therapy, cortisone injection, topical anesthetic creams, and muscle relaxants.
Hoarseness (abnormal deep, harsh, raspy voice) is caused by a variety of conditions in which the larynx (voice box and vocal cords) are irritated or injured. Causes can include vocal strain or other inflammation of the vocal cords by infection or toxins. Treatment of hoarseness depends on the cause.
Costochondritis and Tietze Syndrome
Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage where the ribs attach to the sternum. Tietze syndrome affects the same region of the chest and causes inflammation, tenderness, and swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications, rest, physical therapy, and cortisone injections are suitable methods of treatment for both costochondritis and Tietze syndrome.
Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of disease. Regular exercise can also reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety. There are fitness programs that fit any age or lifestyle.
Alcoholism is a disease that includes alcohol craving and continued drinking despite repeated alcohol-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. It can cause myriad health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver, birth defects, heart disease, stroke, psychological problems, and dementia. Counseling and a few medications can be effective for alcoholism treatment.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
Asbestos (Exposure Dangers, Testing, Symptoms)
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is found in soil and rock. Asbestos exposure occurs when asbestos fibers are disturbed and released into the air then and inhaled. Inhaling asbestos fibers causes three lung diseases; asbestosis, lung cancer, and noncancerous lung disease. In asbestosis, the asbestos fibers scar the lungs. Asbestosis and lung cancer have the same symptoms of cough and shortness of breath.Asbestosis progresses slowly, frequently even 20 to 40 years after asbestos exposure. Asbestos exposure include can come from a variety of products, for example, drinking water due to the decay of asbestos cement in water mains and erosion of natural deposits (which increases your risk of developing benign intestinal polyps), insulation, vinyl floor tiles, some paints and patching compounds, oil and coal furnaces and doors, heat-resistant fabrics, and automobiles brakes and clutches. Some uses of asbestos are banned; however, most are not. Examples of products banned from using asbestos are commercial, corrugated, and specialty paper, flooring felt, and artificial fireplace embers that contain asbestos. Examples of products not banned from using asbestos include vinyl flooring, clothing, roof and non-roof coatings, friction materials, and some car components.Cancers of the larynx, throat, kidney, esophagusand gallbladder have been linked to asbestos exposure. Treatment is dependent upon the type of condition related to asbestos exposure.
Cancer is a disease caused by an abnormal growth of cells, also called malignancy. It is a group of 100 different diseases, and is not contagious. Cancer can be treated through chemotherapy, a treatment of drugs that destroy cancer cells.
Headaches can be divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches are considered primary headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by disease. Headache symptoms vary with the headache type. Over-the-counter pain relievers provide short-term relief for most headaches.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
The most common taste disorder is phantom taste perception; that is, a lingering, often unpleasant taste even though you have nothing in your mouth. We also can experience a reduced ability to taste sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami, a condition called hypogeusia. Some people cannot detect any tastes, which is called ageusia.
Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Myofascial pain syndrome is muscle pain in the body's soft tissues due to injury or strain. Symptoms include muscle pain with tender points and fatigue. Treatment usually involves physical therapy, massage therapy, or trigger point injection.
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Dry eyes are caused by an imbalance in the tear-flow system of the eye, but also can be caused by the drying out of the tear film. This can be due to dry air created by air conditioning, heat, or other environmental conditions. Treatment may involve self-care measures, medications, or rarely, surgery.
Insomnia (Symptoms, Causes, Remedies, and Cures)
Insomnia is the perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep because of difficulty falling asleep; waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep; waking up too early in the morning; or unrefreshing sleep. Secondary insomnia is the most common type of insomnia. Treatment for insomnia include lifestyle changes, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication.
Salivary Gland Cancer
Salivary gland cancer is cancer that affects the parotid glands, sublingual glands, or the submandibular glands. Risk factors include older age, radiation therapy treatment to head or neck, and being exposed to certain substances at work. Signs include fluid draining from the ear, pain, numbness, weakness, trouble swallowing, and a lump. Treatment depends upon the stage of the cancer and usually involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or radiosensitizers.
Nasopharyngeal cancer is a form of cancer in which malignant cells form in the nasopharynx tissues. Risk factors include being of Chinese or Asian ancestry and exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus. Symptoms and signs of nasopharyngeal cancer include a sore throat, a lump in the neck or nose, trouble hearing, nosebleeds, headaches, and trouble hearing, breathing, or speaking. Treatment depends upon the stage of the cancer, the tumor size, the type of cancer, and the patient's health and age.
Tumor grade is a system used to classify cancer cells in how likely the tumor is to grow and how abnormal they look under a microscope. Tumor grade is not the same as tumor stage. A biopsy is taken to determine if the tumor is benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) Infection
HPVs or human papillomaviruses are a group of viral infections of the skin and mucous membranes. Certain high-risk types of HPV infection cause certain cancers (cervical, penile, anal, vaginal, and oral). There are no signs or symptoms of HPV infection. HPV infection is an extremely common STD and is highly contagious. People are at higher risk of getting HPV infection if they have multiple sex partners, a weakened immune system, or breaks in the skin. HPV vaccinations prevent HPV infection. Treatment for HPV infection is antiviral medication. There is no cure for HPV infection.
Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma (ACC)
Adenoid cystic carcinoma is a rare cancer that forms in glandular tissues. The location of the cancer determines the signs and symptoms. Treatment might incorporate chemotherapy, surgery, and/or radiation therapy.
Local ResourcesFind a local Oncologist in your town
Treatment & Diagnosis
- CT Scan (Computerized Tomography)
- Endoscopy (EGD) Procedure
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan)
- Liver Blood Tests (Normal, Low, and High Ranges & Results)
- Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG)
- Antinuclear Antibody Test
- Radiation Therapy
- Biological Therapy
- Cortisone Injection
- Rheumatoid Factor
- Trigger Point Injection
- Plastic Surgery (Cosmetic Surgery)
- CT Scan vs. MRI
- Lower Back Pain
- Chest Pain
- Joint Pain
- Neck Pain (Cervicalgia)
- Shoulder Pain
- Fatigue, Tiredness, and Lethargy
- Frequent Urination
- Doctor: Getting the Most from Your Doctor's Appointment
- How to Choose a Doctor
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Cancer Research: Going the Distance
- Cancer Pain Management with Ann Reiner
- Cancer: The Importance of Joining a Cancer Support Group with Selma Schimmel
- Cancer Patients Need Proper Diet and Exercise
- Cancer: Living Well Despite with Win Boerckel
- Cancer Treatment: Writing to Heal with Margie Davis
- Cancer Survival and Attitude with Hamilton Jordan
- Cancers: Children's Cancers
- Cancer: Confronting Cancer with Humor
- Cancer: Journaling to Save Your Life
- Chronic Pain
- Buttock Pain
- Arm Pain
Medications & Supplements
- isotretinoin (Accutane, Claravis, Amnesteem, Absorica, Zenatane)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- gabapentin (Neurontin)
- cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril, Amrix, Fexmid)
- fentanyl patch (Duragesic)
- pilocarpine, Salagen
- hydroxyurea (Hydrea, Droxia)
- Lyrica (pregabalin)
- Cymbalta (duloxetine)
- granisetron transdermal system (patch), Sancuso
- Antidepressants (Depression Medications)
- Dilaudid vs. Fentanyl (Pain Strength Comparison and Side Effects)
Prevention & Wellness
- Progress Against Lung Cancer Fuels Record Drop in U.S. Cancer Deaths
- HPV-Linked Head and Neck Cancer on the Rise
- Radiation for Head and Neck Cancer May Cause Problems Years Later
- Many Poor, Minority Seniors Get Cancer Diagnosis in the ER
- Can Aspirin Help Tackle Some Cancers?
- FDA Proposes Graphic Warning Labels on Cigarettes
- Despite Cancer Screening, 'Oldest Old' Have Low Survival Odds: Study
- New 'Cancer Vaccine' Attacks Tumors From Within
- Head, Neck Cancers Up Among 9-11 Responders: Study
- New Treatment Approved for Common Skin Cancer
- Chronic Heartburn Tied to Higher Odds for Head, Neck Cancers
- New Guideline Aims to Help Doctors Diagnose Head, Neck Masses
- Drug Offers Some Hope for a Deadly Lung Cancer
- Prison Time Can Be Deadly … to Health
- More Cancer Patients Gaining From Immune-Based Treatments
- Head and Neck Cancers May Be Linked to Hepatitis C
- Head, Neck Cancer Patients May Be at Higher Risk for Suicide: Study
- Blood, Saliva Tests May Spot Head and Neck Cancers Early
- Cancer Patients Who Smoke, Drink May Face Longer Feeding Tube Use
- Oral HPV Infection Lasts Longer in Older Men, Study Finds
- Antacids May Improve Head and Neck Cancer Survival
- Diabetes May Raise Risk for Head and Neck Cancer
- Lymphoseek Approved for Diagnosing Cancer Severity
- Fried Foods May Boost Prostate Cancer Risk, Study Says
- Gum Disease, HPV May Play Role in Head and Neck Cancers
- HPV-Related Head, Neck Cancers on the Rise
- Oral HPV Infection Strikes Men More Than Women: Study
- Fewer Dying in U.S. From Throat, Mouth Cancer, Study Finds
- Erbitux Approval Expanded to Include Head and Neck Cancer
- Can HPV Vaccine Stop Throat Cancer?
- Lots of Coffee Lowers Oral Cancer Risk
- Exercise Recommended for Cancer Patients
- Erbitux Extends Life for Head and Neck Cancer Patients