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About Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer refers to a group of cancers that start in the lining of the oral cavity, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), or vocal cords. They all have a similar appearance under the microscope and are referred to as squamous cell carcinomas.

Many different types of benign growths or cancers can develop in the head and neck region. Some may start in the lining of the mouth or throat (head and neck cancer). Others start in the thyroid or parathyroid glands, skin (squamous or basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma), saliva-producing glands (parotid and other salivary gland tumors), or connective tissues and bones of the head and neck (sarcomas).

Common symptoms of head & neck cancer in adults:

(These symptoms must be persistent and last longer than 2 weeks)

  • Difficulty swallowing or eating
  • Sensation of food sticking in throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Earache
  • Pain in the mouth, throat or neck 
  • Lump in the neck
  • Ulcer, sore or mass in the oral cavity 

Conditions treated by head and neck specialists at Fox Chase include, but are not limited to:

Head and neck cancer

  • Cancers of the oral cavity (mouth)
  • Cancers of the pharynx (cancer of the tonsil, base of tongue or hypopharynx throat)
  • Cancers of the larynx (voicebox and vocal cords)
  • Cancers of the nose, paranasal sinuses or nasopharynx
  • Dysplasia (or precancerous conditions of the mouth)

Thyroid and parathyroid disorders

  • Thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid nodules and parathyroid tumors
  • Disorders of the thyroid or parathyroid glands
  • Papillary and follicular thyroid carcinoma
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Anaplastic carcinoma

Skin cancer

  • Advanced squamous or basal cell carcinoma of the head and neck
  • Cancer of the lip
  • Melanoma of the head and neck
  • Merkel cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Tumors or masses of the saliva producing glands

  • Parotid tumors or masses
  • Submandibular or minor salivary gland tumors or cancers
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Cancer in the lymph nodes of the neck
  • Ear and temporal bone tumors or cancers
  • Paragangliomas or glomus tumors
  • Osteoradionecrosis or wounds after prior treatment with radiotherapy or Mohs surgery

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