head neck cancer

Researchers estimate that more than 65,000 people will be diagnosed with head and neck cancers in the US this year. 

According to the National Institute of Cancer, head and neck cancers can be found in the larynx (voice box), throat, lips, mouth, nose, and salivary glands.

Knowing the symptoms is important, because if caught early, head and neck cancer can be curable.

Here are few signs to look out for:

Sore Throat

A persistent sore throat or hoarseness that doesn’t go away can be a sign of throat or voice box cancer.

Ear pain 

Somewhat surprisingly to many, ear pain can be referred pain from a cancer arising in the mouth, throat or voice box.


A lump in the neck, especially if growing without any infection history, can be a sign of malignancy.  

Difficulty swallowing

Having a hard time swallowing or finding blood in this saliva can be an indication of cancers in the mouth, throat or voice box.   

While knowing these symptoms is important, experts say prevention is the number one thing. “Two of the most common causes for these types of cancers are tobacco use and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV),” says Daniel Karakla, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Head & Neck Cancer Center Director. “Tobacco use can be avoided and there are currently vaccinations for several strains of HPV. Taking proper precautions can significantly reduce your risk.

Learn more about your risk for Head and Neck cancers by visiting the EVMS Head & Neck Cancer Center online or make an appointment by calling 757.388.6200.