Head & Neck Cancer


Symptoms of Head and Neck cancer may depend on where the cancer develops and how it spreads. Besides the physical signs of head and neck cancer, these tumors often cause symptoms that are similar to less serious conditions, like colds which make it difficult to distinguish at first.


  • Persistent sore throat
  • Swelling or a sore that is slow to heal
  • Red or white patch in the mouth
  • A lump or mass in the head or neck area
  • Foul mouth odor not explained by hygiene
  • Hoarseness or change in voice
  • Frequent coughing
  • Nasal obstruction or persistent nasal congestion
  • Frequent nose bleeds and/or unusual nasal discharge
  • Hard time breathing
  • Double vision
  • Blood in the saliva or phlegm, which is mucus discharged into the mouth from respiratory passages
  • Loosening of teeth
  • General numbness or weakness of a body part
  • Pain or difficulty while chewing, swallowing, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Jaw pain
  • Dentures that no longer fit
  • Weight Loss
  • Ear pain/infection

1. Oral cavity
Cancer in this area affects your lips and the inside of your mouth. This can spread to your gums, the inside of your cheeks, the hard palate or top of your mouth’s insides, and under your tongue. Symptoms can be seen with red or white patches in your mouth, swelling in your jaw, and bleeding or pain in your mouth.

2. Pharynx (Throat)
It’s a long tube about 5 inches long that starts from behind your nose to the top of your esophagus. This is the tube in your chest that leads food to your stomach. Your pharynx is comprised of your tonsils, the back of your tongue, and your soft palate.

  • Trouble breathing or talking
  • Painful swallowing
  • Neck or throat pain
  • Earaches, pain, or ringing in your ears
  • Trouble hearing

3. Larynx (Voice box)
This area of your neck contains your vocal cords and your epiglottis (piece of flesh that hangs at the back of your throat). It covers over your larynx when you eat or drink to keep unwanted food or objects from getting in. Signs are pain during swallowing, ear pain, and chances in your voice.

4. Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses
This is the space inside your nose. The paranasal sinuses are small open spaces in the bones of your head around your nose. General symptoms are headaches and nosebleeds.

  • Chronic sinus infections that antibiotics are unable to cure
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Pain in your upper teeth
  • Blocked sinuses
  • Problems with false teeth (unable to fit)

5. Salivary glands
These glands are found in the lower part of your mouth near your jawbone which produces saliva or spit.

  • Inflammation under your chin
  • Swelling around your jawbone
  • Numb or paralyzed face muscles
  • Pain in your face, chin, or neck


The most common cause of head and neck cancers is tobacco consumption. This doesn’t just include smoking but chewing tobacco and using snuff. Drinking too much alcohol raises your risk if inhaled daily. Some people drink and smoke which doubles their risks of acquiring cancer. Most causes including but not limited to:

  • Long hours in the sun
  • Acid reflux
  • Weak immune system
  • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
  • Epstein-Barr virus, the virus that causes mononucleosis (mono)
  • Age (over 40)
  • Gender (more often in men)
  • General carelessness of your mouth and teeth
  • Constant breathing in of asbestos, wood dust, paint, or other chemical fumes

Dr. Kanwar Kelley is located at Orinda California and if you are suffering from Head and Neck Cancer, don’t hesitate to make an appointment (833) 880-7433. He is an experienced physician in many illnesses who can guide your health in the right direction.

Skip to content