Conditions We Treat: Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck cancers affect the soft tissues in your mouth, throat, and nose, also referred to as oral cancer. Most oral cancers affect the lips or the tongue and are a type called squamous cell carcinoma. These cancers tend to spread quickly, and develop in men twice as often as women.

Oral cancer can be discovered during routine cleanings and examinations with your dentist. If you have cancer in your head or neck, the highly skilled team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology, in Flemington, New Jersey, can help. Their expert oncology team uses innovative new treatments like targeted therapies and immunotherapy in addition to radiation therapy and chemotherapy to treat head and neck cancers.

Head and Neck Cancer FAQs

What are head and neck cancers?

Head and neck cancers most often originate in the squamous cells lining the insides of your mouth, nose, sinuses, and throat.

Types of head and neck cancers include:

  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Lip and oral cavity cancer
  • Metastatic squamous neck cancer with occult primary
  • Paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer

While head and neck cancers can also develop in your salivary glands, this is far less common than squamous cell carcinomas.

What causes head and neck cancers?

The primary risk factors for developing head and neck cancers are alcohol consumption and tobacco products, with 75% or more of squamous cell carcinomas developing as a direct result of these two habits.

Chewing tobacco and snuff are responsible for head and neck cancer, as well as smoking. If you use tobacco and drink alcohol, the risk is even higher. However, alcohol and tobacco aren’t risk factors for salivary gland cancers.

Other potential risk factors for head and neck cancers include:

  • Preserved or salted foods
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Missing teeth
  • Industrial exposure to wood dust and other substances
  • Radiation exposure
  • Paan (betel leaves)
  • Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus

Infection with several strains of the human papillomavirus (especially HPV16) is a risk factor for certain head and neck cancers. HPV is most likely to cause oropharyngeal cancers involving your tonsils or the base of your tongue.

What symptoms do head and neck cancers cause?

Symptoms of head and neck cancers might include:

  • Chronic sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Change in your voice
  • A lump or swelling
  • Unusual bleeding or pain in your mouth
  • Ear pain
  • Treatment-resistant sinus infections
  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • Bleeding through your nose
  • Frequent headaches

You might also notice white or red patches on your gums, mouth lining, or tongue.

These symptoms could also be due to numerous other conditions, many of them minor, so it’s important to get a prompt, accurate diagnosis.

What treatments are there for head and neck cancers?

Treatment for most head and neck cancers involves a combination of approaches, including:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Immunotherapy

The Hunterdon Hematology Oncology team prepares a treatment program for you that takes into account the type of head and neck cancer and how advanced it is, as well as your current health and age.

Their cancer center offers radiation oncology treatments in the same building as the infusion suite, ensuring you receive comprehensive care in the most convenient way.

There are current open clinical trials for patients with head and neck cancer running at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology that you may consider joining with a positive diagnosis.

To find out more about head and neck cancers, along with the clinical trials you might be eligible for, call Hunterdon Hematology Oncology today or book an appointment online.

About HHO

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology is a community oncology group, dedicated to fighting cancer in this community and across the region. Our Doctors, Physician’s Assistants and Nurses work tirelessly. They fight hard so that you can win.


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