Types of head and neck cancers
Head and neck cancers is a general term that doctors use – it covers any cancer that occurs in this area of the body.
There are over 30 different places that cancer can develop in the head and neck area, including the:
- Mouth (including lip).
- Thyroid gland.
- Voice box (larynx).
- Salivary glands.
- Nose and sinuses.
- Throat (pharynx).
The symptoms of head and neck cancers will vary depending on the type but signs include:
- An ulcer in the mouth that doesn’t heal within a few weeks.
- Red or white patches in the mouth that don’t go away within a few weeks.
- Difficulty swallowing or pain when chewing or swallowing.
- Changes to your voice such as hoarseness (for over 3 weeks).
- A constant sore throat.
- A swelling or lump in the face, mouth or neck (for over 3 weeks).
Although these symptoms can be caused by conditions other than cancer, it’s still important to have them checked out by your GP or dentist early.
For a more detailed list of the different types of head and neck cancers, and the symptoms specific to them, visit NHS Inform or call 0800 22 44 88.
Worried about a friend or family member?
If you know anyone who is concerned about any of these symptoms, encourage them to visit their doctor. It’s probably nothing serious but it could be a sign of something that needs treatment.
- Head and neck cancers are the sixth most common cancer in Scotland.
- The five year survival rate for people diagnosed with head and neck cancers is over 58%.
- There are around 1,200 new cases of head and neck cancers diagnosed every year in Scotland.
- Incidence rates of head and neck cancers have increased by 5% in the last 10 years.
Do you know the common signs and symptoms to look out for?