About Head & Neck Cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancers of the head and neck account for 6 percent of all cancers in the United States. The category includes cancers of the buccal cavity (mouth), head and neck, larynx, pharynx, thyroid, salivary glands and nose/nasal passages. While white men and women currently have the highest incidence rates of head and neck cancer, mortality is still highest in African Americans.

The National Cancer Institute notes that the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased in all races and in both males and females in the past two decades. Thyroid cancer incidence is almost three times higher in females than in males. However, despite the increase in incidence, mortality rates have remained very low. The doubling in the incidence of thyroid cancer since the early 1970s may be due to better imaging and biopsy techniques rather than to an actual increase in cases.

  • Diagnosing Head & Neck Cancer
    Over the past several years, diagnosing head and neck cancer has occurred at earlier stages thanks to greater public awareness of the disease and improved technology. Learn more.
  • Risk Factors
    A risk factor is anything that increases a person's chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. For example, exposure to sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer and a high-fat, low-fiber diet is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. Scientists have found several risk factors that make a person more likely to develop head and neck cancer. Learn more.
  • Signs & Symptoms
    Many of the symptoms of head and neck cancer mimic other common problems such as tonsillitis, ear infections and strep throat. Most of these benign processes run a short course of a few weeks and subside or improve with treatment such as antibiotics. Learn more.
  • Frequently Asked Questions
    Get answers to your questions about head and neck cancer. Read more.