Head and Neck Cancer Care
Doctors diagnose around 48,000 new head and neck cancers in the U.S. each year. Since they can affect the way we breathe, speak, swallow, and look, cancers of the head and neck need highly precise treatment.
At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we have vast experience in both standard and novel treatments, including minimally invasive treatments for head and neck cancer. Minimally invasive surgery can reduce the effect head and neck cancers have on your daily functioning.
Our experts take a team approach to address the many aspects of head and neck cancer care. And we treat you and your unique needs — not just your cancer.
We have more than 60 locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and western New York.
What Is Head and Neck Cancer?
Cancer is the result of abnormal cell growth.
About 90 percent of head and neck cancers form in the squamous cell carcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinoma forms from squamous cells which are cells that line many structures of the body, such as the:
Types of head and neck cancers we treat include:
- Throat cancers — hypopharyngeal, laryngeal, nasopharyngeal, and metastatic squamous neck cancer.
- Oral and Oropharyngeal cancers — oral cavity, oropharyngeal, and salivary gland.
- Nose and sinus cancer — paranasal sinus and nasal cavity.
- Recurrent or Metastatic Head and Neck Cancer – cancer that has recurred in the head and neck or spread throughout the body
- Thyroid Cancer
Head and Neck Cancer Causes
Exposure to toxins — such as tobacco and alcohol — is the main cause of most head and neck cancers.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer can also cause cancer in the head and neck, specifically those that start in the oropharynx.
Head and Neck Cancer Risks
Risk factors increase a person's chance of getting cancer. Sometimes, people can change their habits to lower their risk factors.
Factors that can increase the risk for head and neck cancer are:
- Toxins — smoking or chewing tobacco and drinking too much alcohol.
- Age — most head and neck cancers affect people 50 and older.
- Gender — men are at more risk than women.
- Radiation — exposure as a child.
- HPV – if you have HPV, you’ are at a higher risk for head and neck cancer.
- Dental hygiene – the state of your mouth and teeth can require more frequent screenings.
- Poor nutrition – a diet low in vitamins A and B can increase your risk for head and neck cancer.
Why Choose UPMC for Head and Neck Cancer Care?
Our surgical, medical, and radiation oncologists provide comprehensive, personalized, and compassionate care.
We're the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in western Pennsylvania. This means you have access to clinical trials of head and neck cancer treatments that you might not find elsewhere.
Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms and Diagnosis
People with head and neck cancer might not experience many symptoms at first, but as the cancer grows symptoms may occur. There are various risk factors that increase a person’s chance of getting cancer.
Learn more about symptoms and diagnosis.
Head and Neck Cancer Treatment Program
UPMC Hillman Cancer Center employs a multidisciplinary approach to treating head and neck cancers to provide a complete continuum of care.
Learn more about our treatment program.