Head and neck cancers
If you’re affected by head and neck cancer, you may have many questions about how it is diagnosed, treatment options, side effects and how to stay well. You can find trustworthy information about all aspects of your experience below.
Head and neck cancer is a general term for a range of cancers that start in the mouth, nose, throat and neck area.
Learn about the common symptoms of head and neck cancers and when to see your doctor.
Find out about the tests for head and neck cancers, how they are diagnosed and staged, and who will provide your care.
The main treatments for head and neck cancers are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. You may have one of these treatments, or a combination. Treatment will be tailored to your specific situation.
Find out about the possible impacts of head and neck cancer treatments, and how to manage some common side effects such as mouth problems, swallowing difficulties and breathing changes.
Learn about follow-up care, what happens if the cancer returns, and how to look after your physical and mental health.
- What type of head and neck cancer do I have?
- Has the cancer spread? What do the staging numbers mean?
- Are the latest tests and treatments for this cancer available in this hospital?
- Will a multidisciplinary team be involved in my care?
- Are there clinical guidelines for this type of cancer?
- Who can I speak to for support?
- What treatment do you recommend? What is the aim of the treatment?
- Are there other treatment choices for me? If not, why not?
- I’m thinking of getting a second opinion. Can you recommend anyone?
- How long will treatment take? Will I have to stay in hospital?
- Are there any out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare or my private health cover? Can the cost be reduced if I can’t afford it?
- How will we know if the treatment is working?
- Are there any clinical trials or research studies I could join?
- What are the possible side effects of the treatment? Will they be permanent?
- Will I have a lot of pain? What will be done about this?
- Can I work, drive and do my normal activities while having treatment?
- Will the treatment affect my sex life and fertility?
- Are there any complementary therapies that might help me?
- Will my face or neck have significant scarring or will I look different?
- Will I need to have a tracheostomy or stoma? Will my speech be affected?
- What kind of rehabilitation can I have?
- How often will I need check-ups after treatment?
- If the cancer returns, how will I know? What treatments could I have?