Head and neck cancer

Head and Neck Cancer Diagram

About head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancer is a general term that covers many different types of cancers. Head and neck cancer affects any of the organs or tissues of the head and neck, including the mouth, throat, nasal cavities, eyes or ears.

Types of head and neck cancer

There are many different areas that cancer can occur in the tissue and organs of the head and neck including:

  • cancer of the nose and paranasal sinuses – cancer of the nose can develop in the nostrils, the lining the nose and the paranasal sinuses, including the bones of the face and related structures
  • nasopharynx cancer – a cancer of the highest part of the throat which lies behind the nose
  • cancer of the ear – cancer of the ear can affect the external ear (pinna), the ear canal which joins the external ear to the middle ear, the middle ear and inner ear
  • cancer of the salivary glands – a cancer of the major salivary glands found in the floor of the mouth and near the jawbone
  • cancer of the voice box (larynx) – a cancer of the larynx which contains the vocal cords
  • cancer of the thyroid gland – a cancer that affects the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck, which produces hormones in the body
  • cancer of the oral cavity – cancer of the lips, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the gums, the lining inside the cheeks and lips, the bottom of the mouth under the tongue, the hard palate (bony top of the mouth), and the small area of the gum behind the wisdom teeth
  • cancer of the oropharyngeal – this is a cancer of the oropharynx which is the middle part of the throat which includes the base of the tongue, the tonsils, the soft palate, and the walls of the pharynx

The Trust offers rapid advice, diagnosis and treatment to patients displaying symptoms of a head and neck cancer and has a specialist team that will see you from referral from a GP to diagnose and treat your head and neck cancer. Our Cancer Services team is here to support you every step of the way. This head and neck cancer section on our website takes you through your head and neck cancer pathway within the Trust and provides you with the information and support you will need throughout your journey.