Head and Neck Cancer

Head and Neck Cancer is a term used to describe a number of different malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx, nose, sinuses and mouth. People with head and neck cancer often experience the following symptoms or signs. Sometimes people with head and neck cancer do not show any of these symptoms. Or these symptoms may be caused by a medical condition that is not cancer.

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Swelling or sore that does not heal, the most common symptom.

  • Red or white patch in the mouth.
  • Lump, bump or mass in the head or neck area with or without pain.
  • Persistent sore throat.
  • Foul mouth odor not explained by hygiene.
  • Hoarseness or change in voice.
  • Nasal obstruction or persistent nasal congestion.
  • Frequent nose bleeds and/or unusual nasal discharge.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Double vision.
  • Numbness or weakness of a body part in the head and neck region.
  • Pain or difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the jaws or tongue.
  • Ear and/or jaw pain.
  • Blood in the saliva or phlegm, which is mucus discharged in mouth from respiratory passages.
  • Loosening of teeth.
  • Dentures that no longer fit.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Fatigue.

Because many of these symptoms can be caused by other noncancerous health conditions as well, it is important to receive regular health and dental screenings. This is particularly important for people who routinely drink alcohol or currently use tobacco products or have used them in the past. In fact people who use alcohol or tobacco should receive a general screening examination at least once a year. This is a simple, quick procedure in which the doctor looks in the nose, mouth and throat for abnormalities and feels for lumps in the neck.