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Head and Neck Cancers

Tongue or Mouth Cancer

Cancer can develop in the tongue, next to the tongue (floor of the mouth), roof of the mouth (palate) or cheeks. These are most frequently treated surgically, but sometimes radiation and/or chemotherapy is used. They are most frequently associated with smoking, chronic alcohol consumption, or chewing tobacco / snuff, but sometimes occur in non-smokers who do not drink.

Tonsil or Throat (Pharynx) Cancer

Like all head and neck cancers, tonsil and throat cancers can be life-threatening, but the earlier they are diagnosed, in general, the more likely someone can be cured. While tobacco and alcohol play a role in the development of these cancers, HPV infection plays an important role in these types of head and neck cancer.

Voice Box (Larynx) Cancer

Cancer of the larynx is a malignant (life-threatening) tumor in your larynx. If not treated, it can spread throughout the throat, block your air passage, and spread to other parts of your body.

Thyroid Cancer

While many people (especially in Northeast Ohio) develop thyroid nodules, only a small percentage of these are cancers. However, when a nodule turns out to be thyroid cancer, the treatment is usually surgical. A thyroidectomy is a procedure in which the doctor surgically removes all or part of the thyroid gland.

Parotid Cancer

The parotid is a spit gland (salivary gland) that is located in front of the ear. Normally, it is soft and flat, but can get infected or develop a lump. About 90% of these parotid masses are (fortunately) benign, but occasionally are malignant. Surgical removal is the usual recommendation.


Nasopharyngeal cancer is a malignant tumor that develops in the nasopharynx. The nasopharynx is the area where the back part of your nose opens into your upper throat. This is also where tubes from your ears open into your throat. It is far more common in China and is a relatively unusual type of head and neck cancer in the United States.

Head and Neck Tumor Assessment

Cancers of the head and neck can be particularly aggressive. Early detection is one way to reduce the chance of the cancer's spreading. Early signs of cancer of the head and neck can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Changes in the skin
  • Prolonged hoarseness
  • Recurring pain
  • Sudden loss of voice
  • Trouble breathing

In later stages, people with cancer might feel an obvious lump in the neck.

These tumors should be examined as soon as possible. Your doctor can use a special, lighted instrument to examine the tumor and the surrounding area. And your doctor can perform a biopsy to determine whether the tumor is cancerous or benign. The results of that test can help you plan for treatment.

Some tumors, whether cancerous or benign, can be removed through surgery. Other tumors require different types of treatment, including chemotherapy or radiation.

To schedule an appointment, call 216-778-4391.