Head and neck cancers

Head and neck cancers

What is head and neck cancer?

Head and neck cancer occurs when malignant tumours grow in any of the tissue in the head or neck.

Types of head and neck cancer include mouth or oral cancer; salivary gland cancer; pharyngeal cancer; laryngeal cancer; and nasal cancer or paranasal sinus cancer. 

Read more about head and neck cancer.

 


 

Head and neck cancer symptoms

Symptoms of head and neck cancer depend on the area of the body that is affected.

Oral cancer symptoms

  • mouth pain or pain on swallowing
  • a sore or swelling in your mouth or jaw that doesn’t go away
  • white patches (leukoplakia) or red patches (erythroplakia) on your gums, tongue or mouth

Salivary gland cancer symptoms

  • swelling or numbness on one side of the face or under the jaw
  • different appearance on each side of the face or neck
  • difficulty swallowing
  • drooping or muscle weakness on one side of the face (palsy)

Pharyngeal cancer symptoms

  • throat pain
  • a persistent sore throat or cough
  • coughing up bloody phlegm
  • voice changes or hoarseness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • a lump in the neck

Laryngeal cancer symptoms

  • swelling in the neck or throat
  • a persistent sore throat
  • a change in the sound of your voice, or hoarseness
  • difficulty swallowing or painful swallowing
  • a lump in the neck

Nasal and paranasal cancer symptoms

  • a persistent blocked nose, particularly in one nostril
  • nosebleeds
  • mucus drainage in the back of your nose or throat
  • frequent headaches or sinus pressure

Read more about the symptoms of head and neck cancer.

 


 

Head and neck cancer statistics

  • About 4000 people in Australia (70% men and 30% women) are diagnosed with a type of head and neck cancer each year.
  • This includes about 1100 people diagnosed with an oral cancer (mouth and tongue); 900 with lip cancer; 300 with salivary gland cancer; 700 with pharyngeal cancer; 600 with laryngeal cancer; and 150 with nasal or paranasal sinus cancer.

Read more about head and neck cancer statistics.

 


The aim of this information is to help you understand about head and neck cancer. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.