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Questions about Head and Neck Causes, Risks and More

Head and neck cancer affects the mouth (tongue, palate, tonsil), throat (larynx and hypopharynx), nose and sinuses, and salivary glands. Most of these cancers are squamous cell carcinoma and are usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

Symptoms of head and neck cancer include:

  • A lump in the neck
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Spitting or coughing of blood
  • Earache
  • Soreness in the mouth that won't heal
  • Less commonly, no symptoms

Risk factors:

Tobacco and alcohol users are at significantly higher risk for developing these types of cancer. However, non-smokers can develop them as well, and should seek medical attention if unexplained symptoms similar to those listed above are present.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) has recently been identified as a potential risk factor for developing head and neck cancer.