Head and neck cancer is a group of cancer conditions affecting the mouth, sinuses, nose or throat areas. Cancer can be found specifically in the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, paranasal sinuses, nasal cavity and salivary glands.

Head and neck masses can be enlarged lymph nodes, congenital cysts or tumors. They can affect all age groups and should be evaluated by a doctor such as an ENT physician. They may need to use endoscopy, imaging, blood tests or biopsy to diagnose the masses and rule out cancer. Treatment may include medication, radiation or surgery to remove the mass depending on the patient and the diagnosis of the mass.

Throat cancer can be pharyngeal or laryngeal in either the pharynx or larynx. Throat cancer is less common than other cancers. Common signs and symptoms of throat cancer include voice changes, problems swallowing, weight loss, sore throat, persistent cough possibly with blood, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, wheezing and ear pain.

Alcohol and tobacco use increase the risk for head and neck cancers. At least 75 percent of head and neck cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol. Another risk factor for head and neck cancers is human papillomavirus infection. Other risk factors include eating preserved foods, poor oral hygiene, radiation exposure and family history.

Symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or sore that does not heal, a persistent sore throat, problems swallowing and hoarseness. Other symptoms include white or red patches in the mouth, unusual bleeding, trouble breathing or speaking, ear pain, congestion, bleeding through the nose, headaches and numbness in the face or neck.

Treatment for head and neck cancers varies by individual patient, location of the cancer, stage of the cancer and other factors. If you or someone you care for is experiencing symptoms of head or neck cancers, it’s very important to see a doctor such as an ENT physician who specializes in the head and neck area. Please contact our North Sioux City office at (605) 217-4327 to schedule an appointment.