Types of head & neck cancer
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:
- Oral cavity (tongue, mouth) and lip cancer
- Pharyngeal cancer (throat cancer)
- Laryngeal cancer (voice box cancer)
- Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer
- Salivary gland cancer
- Skull base tumors (including pituitary tumors)
- Thyroid cancer and parathyroid cancer
- Skin cancers of the face, scalp and neck
What you need to know about cancers of the head and neck.