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Head and Neck Cancer

Cancers of the head and neck account for 3 percent of all malignancies in the United States.1 According to Cancer Facts & Figures 2012, there were an estimated 80,500 new cases of head and neck cancers diagnosed in the United States. Head and neck cancer deaths totaled 15,700 in 2012.

Most head and neck cancers begin in the cells that line the mucosal surfaces in the head and neck area, e.g., mouth, nose, and throat. Mucosal surfaces are moist tissues lining hollow organs and cavities of the body open to the environment. Normal mucosal cells look like scales (squamous) under the microscope, so head and neck cancers are often referred to as squamous cell carcinomas. Some head and neck cancers begin in other types of cells. For example, cancers that begin in glandular cells are called adenocarcinomas.

Cancers of the head and neck are further identified by the area in which they begin:

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Understanding Head and Neck Cancer

  • HPV Can Cause Head and Neck Cancer - What You Should Know
  • Chemotherapy and Your Mouth
  • Diagnosing Head and Neck Cancer: Tests and Staging
  • Genes, Chromosomes and Cancer Genes
  • Genetic Counseling - Getting the Information You Need
  • Guidelines for Pureed Meals - Proper Nutrition on a Pureed Diet
  • Nutrition During Chemotherapy and/or Radiation Treatment
  • Oral Health Care for the Cancer Patient
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancer
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  • Commonly Asked Questions


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  • Black Area Near the Vocal Cords
  • Bump On Back of the Neck
  • Closed esophagus due to radiation treatment
  • Do These Symptoms Sound Like Throat Cancer?
  • Extraction of Tooth
  • How Do I Choose a Radiation Oncologist?
  • HPV
  • Neck Lump
  • Neck Tumor
  • Parotid Gland Tumor
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  • Additional Information

  • Symptoms and Tests
  • Treatment
  • Complications
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    NetWellness Expert Heather  Hines

    Heather Hines, RN
    Case Western Reserve University

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    Last Updated: Dec 09, 2014