About Head and Neck Cancer

If you have head and neck cancer, you are not alone. More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancers in the U.S. each year.

Where do head and neck cancers occur?

Cancers of the head and neck include tumors in many different areas, including the following:

  • Mouth (lips, tongue, gums and other areas)
  • Larynx (voice box) and throat
  • Nose and sinuses
  • Salivary and thyroid glands
  • Skin of the head, neck and face

Most head and neck cancers start from cells called squamous cells. These cells make up the covering of many organs. For example, they are part of the skin, mouth, cervix and many other body parts. The medical term for cancers that start in these cells is “squamous cell carcinoma.” The cancer might stay in this layer of cells (called squamous cell carcinoma in situ) or move into deeper layers of tissue (called invasive squamous cell carcinoma). Some head and neck cancers start in other types of cells. Cancers that start in glandular cells, such as in the salivary glands, are called adenocarcinomas.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of head and neck cancers

Learn more about risk factors for head and neck cancers