What should I know about cancers of the head and neck?

Most head and neck cancers originate in the moist tissues that line the head and neck area such as the regions of the mouth, nose, and throat. Head and neck cancers are often identified by the area in which they originate:

  • Oral cavity
  • Salivary glands
  • Paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity
  • Pharynx
  • Larynx or vocal chords
  • Lymph nodes

A major risk factor for head and neck cancers is tobacco use. It is estimated that tobacco, both smoking and smokeless tobacco products like chew and dip, contribute to 85 percent of head and neck cancer diagnoses. If caught earlier enough these types of cancer are often curable, but long term side effects can exist. Common symptoms include:

  • A lump or sore that does not heal
  • A sore throat that does not go away
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A change or hoarseness in the voice

If you have any of these symptoms be sure to discuss them with your doctor or dentist.

ä Internet Resources

National Cancer Institute: cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/head-and-neck

American Society for Clinical Oncology: cancer.net/patient/Cancer+Types/Head+and+Neck+Cancer

For more information contact Courtney Britton, librarian at Cancer Services of Greater Baton Rouge at (225) 927-2273, cbritton@cancerservices.org , or visit the Education Center at 550 Lobdell Ave.