Head And Neck Cancer

What Is Head And Neck Cancers? head and neck cancers symptoms

Having a lump or swelling in the hnscc area can be very alarming. Cancer can develop in any of the different regions of the head and neck, some more common than others. The most common locations that cancer can develop are in the tongue (glossal cancer), hard palate (palatal cancer), gums and teeth (gingival cancer), floor of the mouth under tongue (lingual cancer) and inner lining of the lips and cheeks (buccal cancer). There are a number of various types of cancer. There are superficial, intermediate and deep-seated cancer. The three basic types are carcinomas, sarcomas and lymphomas.

The various areas where head and neck cancer can be found are:


1. Cancer of the Oral Cavity

Cancers that develop in the oral cavity are one of the known mouth cancers. The mouth is made up of several types of tissue, including the lining and floor of the mouth, the gums, the cheek lining, and the hard palate (the bony roof of the mouth). These tissues are all at risk for developing cancerous tumours.

The most common symptom of cancer of the oral cavity is a painless growth or ulcer in the mouth that does not heal in two weeks. Other symptoms may include:

  • A blister on your lip or in your mouth that bleeds quickly and it does not cure
  • Red or white spots on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or mouth lining
  • A mass or thickening on the skin covering (cheek) inside the mouth
  • Having Difficulty in eating and swallow
  • A change in your voice (hoarseness)

Most people with these symptoms do not have cancer. Indicators like above can also be cause by other medical conditions. A thorough physical examination by a dentist or physician is needed to determine whether you have a more serious problem.

2. Cancers of the Oropharynx

The oropharynx is the area at the back of the mouth that includes the base of the tongue and tonsils. Cancer can occur in this area.

3. Cancer of the Nose

Cancer can develop in any part of the nose, including inside, on top or in back of it.

The air spaces in the bones of your face make up a network of small cavities called sinuses. There are four different sinus cavities – the maxillary (above the cheek), ethmoid, sphenoid and frontal sinuses. Cancers that develop in these cavities are known as sinus cancers.

Cancers can form in the base of the skull and the lining of the nose. The nasopharynx is the uppermost region of the throat, located behind the nose. Cancers that occur here are known as nasopharyngeal cancer.

4. Cancer of the Ear

The ear is composing of following parts:

  • Outer ear – The part you can see on either side of your head. This includes your ear canal and eardrum.
  • Middle ear – The space behind your eardrum with tiny bones (ossicles) that conduct sound to your inner ear. It also contains nerves that help with balance, as well as a small air-filled cavity called the vestibule.
  • Inner ear – The cochlea (a snail-shaped organ filled with fluid) and semicircular canals (three loops filled with fluid and tiny crystals). These help you hear and maintain your balance.

Cancer can occur in any of these areas, but most often develops in the outer ear or middle ear.

5. Cancer of the Eye

Cancer can develop in any part of the eye, such as skin of the eye, or eye itself which is very rear and back of the eye. For more information, we have a separate blog covering all aspects of eye cancer and its treatments, you can read the same on this website.

Head and neck real photo


It is not always known what causes the head and neck cancers. Although, males are more affected by this cancer than females, in other words cancer of the head and neck is more frequent in men and not in women. The causes of some malignancies (such as salivary gland cancers, sarcomas, and lymphomas) are unknown.

Squamous cell carcinomas are more prevalent in smokers and persons who consume a lot of alcohol, especially spirits, and even more so in people who do both.

Head and Neck Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention

People who smoke pipes or keep cigarettes between their lips for lengthy periods of time have an increased risk of developing malignancies in the lips.

While there are many causes of cancer, smoking and drinking alcohol are by far at the top most causes of head and neck cancers. About 7 out of 10 people with this type of cancer are current or ex-smokers, and about half drink alcohol. For people who do both, the risk is multiplied many times over.

People who spend a lot of time in the sun have a higher chance of developing cancers of the lip and the skin of the head and neck, especially the ear.

Oral cancers are more common in people who chew tobacco or betel nuts, as well as those who use paan.

A diet that is devoid of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Inhaling certain chemicals and hardwood dusts (for example, in the job) raises the risk of nasal and sinus cancer.

If anyone in your family once cured from the Head and neck cancer it is not likely that you also will suffer from the same in future. These cancers are not likely to develop because gene or inheritance. It is purely your lifestyle and behaviour rather than genetically inheritance.

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)

With the knowledge of what causes the head and neck cancer it is now require to know the signs of cancer.

A lot of people don’t think about their health until it’s too late, and it’s totally okay if that’s you. We’ve all been there. But now that you have this information, we hope you take advantage.

Here are some warning signs:

  • an ulcer or sore area in the mouth or neck that does not heal within a few weeks
  • not able to swallow food easily or normally, or pain in the process of chewing or swallowing food
  • trouble with inhaling and exhaling or speaking, such as Constantly noisy breathing, slurred speech or a hoarse voice
  • feeling of not feeling your mouth or the lips
  • an unexplained loose tooth
  • a Constant blocked nose, or bleeding from nose
  • sound of ring in the ear, or problem in hearing properly
  • There is a swelling or group of mass in the mouth or neck
  • Paining on the face or upper jaw
  • A pre-cancerous changes might occur who smoke or chew tobacco, in the lining of the mouth, or on the tongue. These can appear as constant white patches or red patches.

It’s pretty common for cancers that are found elsewhere in the body to spread into nearby lymph glands. This is particularly true of cancers of the head and neck region, and these lumps can sometimes be the first symptom of a head and neck cancer.

But don’t freak out! These lumps aren’t always cancer—sometimes they’re just due to a harmless infection. However, if you have a lump in your neck that persists for more than three or four weeks despite a course of antibiotics, it’s definitely time to see a specialist.

And sadly, these cancers are on the rise. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the most common symptoms—and anything else that seems strange to you. The best way to figure out if these symptoms mean something serious is to see your doctor.



When you see the doctor at the hospital, he or she will ask about your current symptoms as well as your medical history. You’ll probably also have an examination of your mouth, throat and neck area. You may have one or more tests including:

  • Nasendoscopy: The doctor may take a look inside your mouth, into your throat and at the lymph glands in your neck with a special instrument called a nasendoscope. This is how they’ll be able to see if there are any signs of cancer.
  • Biopsy: Next, the doctor may want to get a biopsy of the lump. That means taking out a tiny piece of tissue for examination under a microscope by someone who specializes in diagnosing head and neck cancers.
  • Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC): A fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is another way for the doctor to look at tissues under a microscope.

Head and Neck Cancer Treatments

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma early detection is vital for successful treatment! The longer a cancer remains undetected, the more likely it is to spread and become more difficult to treat.

While it may be possible to cure oral cancer, treatment will cause some changes to the look of your face. Depending on the nature of the operation and amount of tissue removed, you may find that a cosmetic or restorative procedure is necessary. Restoring your smile is a key part of coping with head and neck cancer.

There were stages of overwhelming emotions when coping with cancer — from beginning to end.

There are three main types of treatment for head and neck cancer:

  • surgery
  • radiotherapy
  • chemotherapy

There are lots of reasons someone might have head and neck cancer, but the treatments for this type of cancer can be pretty scary. Surgery to cut out a tumour, radiation therapy to kill tumours, chemotherapy to kill cancer cells—these are all somewhat invasive, to say the least.

TREATMENTS FOR head and neck cancer

Signs Of Head And Neck Cancer

Head and neck surgery and that’s before you even start thinking about all the side effects! From hair loss to nausea to losing your ability to taste food, it’s no wonder so many people ask: what would happen if I didn’t do any of those things?

Treating head and neck cancers isn’t just about beating back the cancer cells and getting rid of them—it’s about doing whatever you can to help you stay healthy and strong. So whether your treatment is meant to cure the cancer or keep it from coming back, there are things you can do to get your life back in shape while you’re on your way to total recovery.

Spend some time talking with your doctor or a member of their staff about what side effect you might expect, and ask if there are any steps you can take right away to reduce the chances that they’ll happen—like eating a healthy diet or even adding some exercise into your daily routine.

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