Diagnosing Head and Neck Cancers

There are five main types of head and neck cancer, named after the area in which they originate. Often, they begin inside the mouth, nose or throat. They also can begin in the salivary glands, but this is rare. Cancers in certain parts of the head and neck, such as the brain, eyes, esophagus, skin, muscles and bones, are not generally categorized as head and neck cancers.

Click to take our Online Head and Neck Cancer Risk Assessment Quiz

The most common risk factors for head and neck cancers are alcohol and tobacco use. However, recently there has been an increased number of cases related to HPV (human papillomavirus).

When diagnosing this cancer, doctors must determine its stage to recommend an appropriate treatment. Cancer is considered to be early or advanced depending on the size of the tumor, the degree to which nearby lymph nodes are affected, and whether or not the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Like most cancers, the sooner head and neck cancers are detected, the better as there are more treatment options that are more effective.

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