What Are Cancers of the Head & Neck?

Types of head & neck cancer

Anatomy of the head and neck

Head & neck cancers account for more than 5 percent of all cancers diagnosed across the U.S.

Head and neck cancers can develop in multiple areas, including the nasal cavity, sinuses, lips, mouth, salivary glands, throat, larynx (voice box) or thyroid gland. They also include skin cancers that occur in the head and neck area. Together these account for more than 5% of all cancers diagnosed across the U.S. — a total of more than 100,000 new cases every year.

The vast majority of head and neck cancers — more than 90% — are squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancer that begins in the lining of the mouth, nose, throat and other areas of the body. Most of these cancers are caused by smoking, chewing tobacco and/or heavy drinking. An increasing numbers of throat (oropharyngeal) cancers have been linked to infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Most head and neck cancers can be treated successfully, especially if diagnosed at an early stage:

Head & neck cancer info sheet

What you need to know about cancers of the head and neck.

View our info sheet