Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
Head and neck cancers are cancers that start in the tissues and organs of the head and neck. They include cancers of the larynx (voice box), throat, lips, mouth, nose, and salivary glands.
Most types of head and neck cancer begin in squamous cells that line the moist surfaces inside the head and neck (for example, the mouth, nose, and throat). Tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, and infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) increase the risk of many types of head and neck cancer. To get the right information about treatment and prognosis, you need to know exactly what type of head and neck cancer you have and what stage it is.
There are five main types of head and neck cancer, each named according to the part of the body where they develop. For more information about a specific type, click on one of the names below.
- Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer: The larynx is commonly called the voice box. It is a tube-shaped organ in the neck that is important for breathing, talking, and swallowing.
- Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer: The nasal cavity is the space just behind the nose where air passes on its way to the throat.
- Nasopharyngeal Cancer: The nasopharynx is the air passageway at the upper part of the throat behind the nose.
- Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer: The oral cavity includes the mouth and tongue. Theoropharynx includes the middle of the throat from the tonsils to the tip of the voice box.
- Salivary Gland Cancer: The salivary gland is tissue that produces saliva, which is the fluid that is released into the mouth to keep it moist and that contains enzymes that begin breaking down food.
Other types of cancer can also be located in the head and neck region, but the diagnosis and treatment are much different. Specific information about brain tumors, esophageal cancer, eye cancer, parathyroid cancer, sarcoma, and thyroid cancer is available on cancer.gov.