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Types of Head and Neck Cancer We Treat

Head and neck cancers make up about 4% of all cancers in the U.S.

These types of cancer are twice as common in men as in women. People over age 50 are also more likely to receive a diagnosis of some type of head and neck cancer.

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we have the expertise and technology to diagnose and treat all types of head and neck cancers. Our goal is to treat your cancer while allowing you to maintain your quality of life.

Contact Us About Head and Neck Cancer

To learn more about Head and Neck Cancer or to make an appointment, you can:

What Are the Types of Head and Neck Cancer?

The most common types of head and neck cancer most often start in the mouth, throat, or voice box.

Cancers of the sinus, nasal cavity, and salivary glands are less common.

Mouth cancers

  • Oral cavity cancers can affect the lips, gums, tongue, cheek linings, floor of the mouth, or roof of the mouth. Most of these cancers are squamous cell cancers. Routine exams by a dentist, dental hygienist, or doctor can help detect these cancers early before they spread.
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer affects the area behind the larynx, or voice box. Symptoms of this cancer may be like those of other less serious conditions. They include sore throat, cough, ear pain, and the feeling of a lump in your throat.
  • Laryngeal cancer affects the voice box — the part of the throat that holds the vocal cords. This is the second most common form of head and neck cancer. Symptoms include hoarseness, ear pain, problems swallowing, or a lump in the neck due to an enlarged lymph node.
  • Oropharyngeal cancer starts in the middle part of the throat behind the oral cavity. It includes the back of the tongue, throat lining, tonsils, and parts of the back of the mouth's roof (soft palate). HPV infection causes most of the squamous cell cancers in this part of the throat (called HPV-positive cancer).

Nose and sinus cancers

  • Nasopharyngeal cancer occurs behind the nose, at the back of the nasal cavity. This cancer is rarer than other types of head and neck cancer.
  • Paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer affects the four groups of hollow spaces (paranasal sinuses) in the bones near the nose. Doctors often find these cancers because of problems they cause, such as a chronic headache or stuffed nose.

Salivary gland cancer

  • Salivary gland cancer is rare. It forms in the glands in front of and below the ears, under the tongue, and below the jaw. Doctors or dentists often find this type of head and neck cancer early.

Thyroid gland cancer

  • Thyroid cancer affects the thyroid gland in the neck. Doctors diagnose thyroid cancer in about 64,000 people each year. In most cases, it's a very treatable form of cancer.

Why Choose UPMC for Head and Neck Cancer Treatment?

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer expert care for all types of head and neck cancers.

Our head and neck cancer program's team of experts includes:

  • Medical and radiation oncologists.
  • Head and neck surgeons.
  • Speech pathologists.
  • Cancer nurses.

We're a trusted worldwide leader in head and neck cancer care. We also offer access to the latest clinical trials, including immunotherapy.