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Types of head and neck cancer

There are many different types of head and neck cancer. The most common ones are:

Oral cancer. Cancer affecting the mouth is the most common type of head and neck cancer. The main risk factors are smoking, chewing tobacco and heavy alcohol use. Fortunately, this form of cancer tends to be highly treatable if discovered early. The symptoms include:

  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue or mouth
  • A swelling of the jaw
  • Mouth pain
  • Bleeding

Laryngeal cancer. Cancer that arises in the voice box (larynx) is called laryngeal cancer. It’s the second most common form of head and neck cancer and is strongly linked to tobacco use, alcohol use, GERD, HPV infection and workplace exposure to certain substances, such as asbestos and paint fumes. The most common symptoms include:

  • Strange voice hoarseness
  • Difficulty wallowing
  • A lump in the neck
  • Ear pain

Pharyngeal (throat) cancer. Alcohol use, tobacco use, a diet low in fruits and vegetables, HPV infection and GERD are all risk factors for throat cancer. It can be difficult to detect in the early stages, and the most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Voice changes and hoarseness
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • A lump in the neck
  • Ear pain

Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers. These are cancers that arise in the mucosal tissues that line the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses. They are common among people who are exposed to wood and metal dusts, air pollution and other contaminants. Symptoms include:

  • Persistent nasal congestion
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Frequent headaches
  • Sinus pain
  • Diminished sense of smell
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How are head and neck cancers diagnosed?

To determine a diagnosis of head and neck cancer, your Miami ENT will begin by collecting detailed information about your medical history and symptoms. From there, he or she will perform the following tests:

Physical examination. During this exam, your doctor will feel for abnormalities in the head and neck area and visually assess the inside of the mouth and throat.

Endoscopy. A flexible, lighted tube may be used to examine the areas of your throat that are not easily accessible.

Imaging tests. In some cases, a CT, MRI or ultrasound may be required to determine the presence of a tumor, along with its location and extent.

Biopsy. A biopsy involves removing a small amount of tissue or fluid to look for cancerous cells under a microscope.

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Effective treatment for head and neck cancer begins with a swift and definitive diagnosis. If you are experiencing symptoms of this disease, contact SFENTA™ today.

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