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Most head and neck cancers form in the moist tissues (mucosal surface) lining the mouth, nose and throat. In the United States, approximately three to five percent of cancers are head and neck cancers. These cancers are more common in men and in people over age 50.


Head and neck cancer symptoms may include:

  • A lump or sore that does not heal.
  • A sore throat that does not go away.
  • Difficulty or pain swallowing.
  • A change or hoarseness in the voice.
  • Swelling of the jaw or mouth area.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consult a MemorialCare Physician partner.

Risk Factors & Prevention

You are at a greater risk for head and neck cancer if you:

  • Smoke cigarettes, cigars and/or use chewing tobacco or are exposed to smoke.
  • Drink alcohol.
  • Stay in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Are exposed to diagnostic X-rays or radiation therapy.
  • Are exposed to wood or nickel dust inhalation.

About eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers, particularly in the mouth and throat area, are attributed to tobacco use from cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Alcohol use is another risk factor, and those who use both tobacco and alcohol are at a greater risk. To help prevent head and neck cancer, do not smoke or drink alcohol.

Locations Treating Head & Neck Cancer