Symptoms

It is important to understand the symptoms of head and neck cancer.

As with any cancer, the earlier the diagnosis, the more likely the patient will have a positive outcome.


The signs and symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or a sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty in swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice. These symptoms may also be caused by other, less serious conditions. It is important to check with a doctor or dentist about any of these symptoms.

From the National Cancer Institute Head and Neck Cancers Factsheet.

  • Most head and neck cancers begin in the squamous cells that line the moist surfaces inside the head and neck.
  • Tobacco use, alcohol use, and human papillomavirus infection are important risk factors for head and neck cancers.
  • Typical symptoms of head and neck cancers include a lump or sore (for example, in the mouth) that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice.
  • Rehabilitation and regular follow-up care are important parts of treatment for patients with head and neck cancers.

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