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What Is Head and Neck Cancer?
Head and neck cancers include many types of malignancies (cancerous tumors) in the face, mouth and throat. Some common locations include:
- nasal cavity/paranasal sinuses
- oral cavity (lips, gums, floor of mouth, tongue, cheeks)
- mouth, jaw, throat and ears
- pharynx, nasopharynx, oropharynx (base of tongue, tonsils)
- larynx (voice box) and hypopharynx
- salivary glands
- skin of head and neck
- neck and metastases (spread) to the neck
The way a particular head and neck cancer behaves depends on the site in which it arises (the primary site). For example, cancers that begin on the vocal cords behave very differently than those that arise in the back of tongue, just an inch or less from the vocal cords.
The most common type of cancer in the head and neck is squamous cell carcinoma, which arises in the cells that line the inside of the nose, mouth and throat. Other less common types of head and neck cancers include lymphomas and sarcomas.