Head and Neck Cancer are identified by the area in which they begin. They affect the oral cavity, salivary glands, paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx and lymph nodes in the neck. They begin in the squamous cells which line the moist, mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck and sometimes salivary glands.

Causes of Head and Neck Cancer:

Excessive Tobacco Consumption

Chronic tobacco use in any form especially smoking and use of chewing tobacco and snuff is the most important cause of head and neck cancers, especially cancers of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypo pharynx, and larynx. Alcohol consumption along with tobacco further complicates the situation and makes it worse.

Also read about How Tobacco Causes Oral Cancer.


Few viruses like human papillomavirus (HPV) have been known to be cancer causing, especially HPV-16, is a risk factor for some types of head and neck cancers, especially oropharyngeal cancers. Epstein-Barr virus infection is huge risk factor for nasopharyngeal cancer and cancer of the salivary glands.

Consumption of Paan (Betel)

Paan, which is routinely had post meals, or otherwise may contain several ingredients which been controversially been known to cause cancer. Over consumption of preserved or salted foods.

Oral Health

Failure to stick to a good oral hygiene an oral dental health can predispose you to head and neck cancers.

Occupational Exposure

People who are exposed to construction materials, metal grinds, and chemicals on a routine basis due to their professions ae prone to HNCs. Certain specific dusts like wood dust and prolonged exposure to asbestos and synthetic fibers, have been known to cause cancer

Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer:

General Symptoms

  • Lump or a sore in the throat that has been there for long and does not seem to heal
  • Difficulty in swallowing and gulping
  • Change or hoarseness in the voice

Specific Symptoms

  • Presence of white or red patch on the gums and tongue and other part of the oral cavity, bleeding without any cause
  • Trouble in breathing or swallowing that is persistent and stays on; you also might have frequent headaches, pain, or ringing in the ears; or trouble hearing
  • Sinuses that remain blocked for longer duration of time and do not get cleared even after taking antibiotic
  • Swelling of the salivary glands along with serious symptoms like numbness or paralysis of the muscles in the face

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