Head and Neck Cancer: Patient Education
Speaking very generally, it’s a serious problem when you have cancer of your mouth or cancer of your throat. It’s not a trivial matter, but you’ve come to a center where people know how to take care of this and you need to be hopeful. This is a serious matter, but you’re in the right place, and we’re going to take care of it.
Head and neck cancer generally refers to cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract — from the base of your neck upward to include:
- Lips and oral cavity
- Nose and sinuses
- Throat and voice box
It includes all of the upper structures involved in breathing and eating.
Head and neck cancers do not include cancers in the:
- Thyroid gland
Most Common Places to Get Head & Neck Cancer
The majority of head and neck cancers begin in your:
Oral Cavity – Your Mouth
Larynx – Your Voice Box
- An orchid-looking structure
- Houses your vocal cords
Pharynx – Your Throat
- Nasopharynx – at the back of your nose right up against your skull base
- Oropharynx – the part of your throat that you see when you open your mouth
- Hypopharynx – surrounds your voice box (larynx), which leads to your esophagus
Types of Head & Neck Cancers
The five primary types of head and neck cancers are:
- Lip, oral cavity and oropharyngeal
- Laryngeal and hypopharyngeal
- Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus
- Salivary gland
In general, cancers that originate in different parts of your aerodigestive system are diagnosed and treated differently.
For more information, please select from the different head and neck cancers listed above.
In Our Health Library
- American Cancer Society
- National Institutes of Health
- Head and Neck Cancer Alliance
- Thyroid, Head and Neck Cancer Foundation (THANC)
- American Head and Neck Society