Head & Neck Cancer includes several different signs and symptoms

Mouth cancer is the most common type of head and neck cancer.  It can affect a number of areas in the mouth, including the lips, tongue, inside the cheeks, floor or roof of the mouth and gums.

Symptoms of mouth cancer can include mouth ulcers and unexplained persistent lumps in your mouth.  Sometimes these are painful, but not always.

Laryngeal cancer develops in the tissue of the larynx (voice box).

Symptoms can include:

  • A change in voice, such as persistent hoarseness
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • A lump or swelling in your neck.

Throat cancer (pharynx).  The main areas that can be affected are the:

  • oropharynx – the part of the throat at the back of the mouth
  • hypopharynx – the part of the throat connecting the oropharynx to the gullet and windpipe
  • nasopharynx – the part of the throat that connects the back of the nose to the back of the mouth

Symptoms can include:

  • A lump in the neck
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing.

Salivary gland cancer most commonly affects the parotid glands.  There are 3 main groups of salivary glands:

  • parotid glands – located between your cheeks and ears
  • sublingual glands – located under your tongue
  • submandibular glands – located under each side of your jawbone.

Symptoms can include:

  • A lump or swelling on or near your jaw, or in your mouth or neck
  • Numbness in part of your face
  • Dropping on one side of your face.

Nasal and sinus cancer affects the nasal cavity (above the roof of your mouth) and the sinuses (the small, air-filled cavities inside the bones of the nose and within the cheekbone and forehead).

Nasal and sinus cancer can present like viral or bacterial infections, such as the common cold or sinusitis

Symptoms can include:

  • A persistent blocked nose, which only affects one side
  • Nose bleeds
  • A decreased sense of smell or mucus running from the nose or down the throat.

Nasopharyngeal cancer affects the part of the throat that connects the back of the nose to the back of the mouth.  It’s one of the least common types of head and neck cancer in the United Kingdom (UK).

Symptoms can include:

  • Alump in the neck, due to cancer spreading to the lymph nodes in the neck
  • Ablocked or stuffy nose
  • Nosebleeds
  • Hearing loss (usually only in one ear).

Any of the symptoms listed here can be caused by conditions other than cancer, but it is important to have them checked by your GP or dentist, especially if they do not go away or get worse over a 3-week period.