Head and Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers can originate in any tissue or organ within the head and neck. There are over 30 sites in the head and neck that can be affected by cancer. This is a rare group of cancers with 7,800 people diagnosed within the UK per year. This cancer group has four main types of cancer:

  • Adenocarcinomas – originate in cells which make up the glandular lining
  • Lymphomas – originate in cells of the lymphatic system
  • Melanomas – originate in melanocytes cells (these cells create colour for the skin and eyes)

Things to look out for

Symptoms of head and neck cancer include but are not limited to:

  • Persistent mouth ulcer
  • Pain when swallowing or chewing and/or trouble swallowing
  • Persistent sore throat and/or earache troubling one side of the body
  • A lump and/or swelling in the neck or mouth
  • Trouble speaking or breathing – you may experience constant hoarseness or loud breathing
  • Tooth loss
  • Pain of the upper jaw or face
  • A continuing sore throat and/or blocked nose or nose bleeds
  • Changes or difficulty in hearing (such as ringing in the ear)
  • Red (erythroplakia) or white (leukoplakia) areas that form on the tongue or lining of the mouth. These can sometimes bleed or become sore
  • Swelling of singular or multiple lymph nodes

There may be further symptoms but these will be dependent on where the cancer/tumour has originated from. You can discuss these with your consultant/doctor or nurse.