Head & Neck Cancer Patients

Head and neck cancer is a broad term that encompasses a group of cancers that develop in various areas of the head and neck region. These cancers can occur in the mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), nasal cavity, sinuses, salivary glands, and other structures of the head and neck. Head and neck cancers are relatively common, and they can be associated with various risk factors, including tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and infection with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).

Common Types of Head and Neck Cancer:

Here are some common types of head and neck cancer:

  • Oral Cancer: This type of cancer can occur in the lips, gums, tongue, the lining of the cheeks, the floor of the mouth, and the hard or soft palate.
  • Throat Cancer (Pharyngeal Cancer): Throat cancer can develop in the oropharynx (the part of the throat behind the mouth), the hypopharynx (the lower part of the throat), or the nasopharynx (the upper part of the throat behind the nose).
  • Laryngea Cancer: This cancer affects the voice box (larynx) and can lead to changes in voice, difficulty swallowing, and breathing problems.
  • Nasal and Sinus Cancer: These cancers typically develop in the nasal passages and sinuses and may cause symptoms like nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and facial pain.
  • Salivary Gland Cancer:Salivary gland cancers can occur in the glands that produce saliva, which are located in various parts of the head and neck.
  • Thyroid Cancer: While the thyroid gland is located in the neck, thyroid cancer is often classified as a separate category. However, it is considered a type of head and neck cancer and is treated by head and neck cancer specialists.


Head and neck cancers can manifest with a variety of symptoms, which can vary depending on the specific location and stage of the cancer. These cancers can occur in the oral cavity, throat, voice box (larynx), nose, sinuses, salivary glands, and other structures in the head and neck region. Common symptoms of head and neck cancers may include:

  • Painless Lump or Swelling: A lump or swelling in the neck, throat, or mouth that doesn’t go away.
  • Persistent Sore Throat: A sore throat that doesn’t improve with time, or one that recurs.
  • Hoarseness or Voice Changes: Persistent hoarseness, voice changes, or difficulty speaking.
  • Difficulty Swallowing: Pain or difficulty when swallowing (dysphagia).
  • Ear Pain: Unexplained ear pain, especially when it occurs on one side only.
  • Persistent Cough: A chronic cough that is not due to other respiratory conditions.
  • Oral Symptoms: Sores, white or red patches, or bleeding in the mouth or on the lips.
  • Nasal Symptoms: Chronic sinus congestion, nosebleeds, or nasal obstruction.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Significant, unintentional weight loss.
  • Jaw or Tongue Pain: Pain in the jaw, tongue, or facial area that doesn’t have an obvious cause.
  • Numbness or Tingling: Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the face, neck, or any part of the head and neck.
  • Changes in Skin: Changes in the skin of the head and neck, such as persistent sores or ulcers.
  • Swelling or Enlargement: Swelling or enlargement of the lymph nodes in the neck.


Diagnosing head and neck cancer typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, and various diagnostic tests and procedures. After a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, your healthcare team will discuss the findings with you and develop an appropriate treatment plan based on the type and stage of the head and neck cancer. Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these approaches. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are crucial for the best possible outcomes in head and neck cancer cases.


The treatment of head and neck cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, its location, the patient’s overall health, and their preferences. Treatment for head and neck cancer often involves a multidisciplinary approach, which may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, or a combination of these modalities.

  • Surgery: Surgical removal of the tumor is a common treatment for head and neck cancer. The extent of surgery will depend on the size and location of the tumor.
  • Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to target and kill cancer cells. It can be used as the primary treatment or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. External beam radiation therapy and brachytherapy are common techniques used in head and neck cancer treatment.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells. It is often used in combination with radiation therapy (chemoradiation) for certain types of head and neck cancers. Chemotherapy can also be used as an adjuvant treatment following surgery or as palliative care for advanced stages of cancer.
  • Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy drugs are designed to target specific molecules or pathways involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. These therapies are used in cases where cancer cells have specific genetic mutations or overactive signaling pathways.
  • Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy drugs work by enhancing the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. Some immunotherapy drugs, such as checkpoint inhibitors, have shown promise in the treatment of certain head and neck cancers, particularly those with HPV (human papillomavirus) involvement.
  • Supportive Care: Managing symptoms, controlling pain, and improving quality of life are important aspects of treatment.

Treatment plans are individualized, and the choice of treatment depends on the specific characteristics of the cancer and the patient’s overall health. It’s important for patients to have a thorough discussion with their healthcare team to understand the recommended treatment options, potential side effects, and expected outcomes. Additionally, supportive care and rehabilitation are integral parts of the treatment process to help patients regain optimal function and quality of life after treatment.

Proton Therapy for Head & Neck Cancer

With proton therapy, our team can precisely target your tumor to the exact depth, sparing the critical organs and structures surrounding it. We’re here to help you get the most advanced and precise treatment possible, allowing you to fight cancer directly and help save you from many unwanted short- and long-term side effects.

Proton therapy reduces excess radiation exposure and toxicity, which helps lower your risk for unnecessary side effects. Additionally, proton therapy for head and neck cancers can help lower the risk of needing a feeding tube during treatment.