Head And Neck Cancer originates from the head and neck region such as the mouth, throat, voice box, nose, sinuses, or salivary glands. Its symptoms depend on the location of the cancer. It is to note that some of these symptoms may also indicate a different condition. In some cases, individuals with head and neck cancer may also not experience any head and neck cancer symptoms.
These are the most common head and neck cancer symptoms and signs based on its location:
Common Head And Neck Cancer Symptoms
Mouth (Oral Cavity)
Red or white patches in the gums and tongue is one of the common head and neck cancer symptoms in the mouth. Other symptoms include swelling in the jaw and bleeding in the mouth area.
Difficulty in breathing or talking and painful swallowing suggests symptoms in the throat. Ear pain or ringing in the ears is also one of the head and neck cancer symptoms categorized under the pharynx area.
Voice Box (Larynx)
Hoarseness or changes in the voice such as a raspy or weak voice is a symptom in the voice box. Painful swallowing, as well as ear pain are also symptoms occurring in the larynx.
Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinuses
There are several symptoms that may indicate cancer in the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. These are blocked nose, chronic sinus infections, nosebleeds, headaches, pain in the upper teeth and swelling around the eyes.
Swelling under the chin or around the jawbone may indicate a cancer in the salivary glands. Other symptoms are paralyzed face muscles, and ongoing pain in the face or neck.
Head And Neck Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
Several factors can increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer. The most common risk factors associated with this type of cancer are:
- Smoking – Tobacco use including smoking of cigarettes, cigars, or pipes and chewing tobacco. Second hand smoke may also increase the risk of developing head and neck cancer.
- Drinking Alcohol – Heavy and frequent alcohol consumption higher the risk of developing cancer in the mouth, throat, and voice box.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection – certain strains of HPV commonly transmitted through sexual contact is a risk factor for head and neck cancer.
- Poor oral hygiene – Infrequent brushing and flossing can lead to gum disease and tooth decay that may increase the risk of oral cavity or cancer in the mouth.
- Prolonged sun exposure – Linked to cancer in the lip area.
- Occupational Exposure – Exposure and inhaling of certain chemicals such as asbestos, nickel, wood dust, and paint fumes.
- Radiation Exposure – Repeated exposure in radiation is a risk factor that is associated with salivary gland cancer.
Other factors include family history of this cancer, poor nutrition, weakened immune system, and previous history of head and neck cancer. It is also believed that head and neck cancer is more common in men than women.
Further Reading On Head And Neck Cancer
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.