Symptoms

A symptom is a signal of disease, illness, injury, or that something is not right in the body. Symptoms are felt or noticed by the person who has them.

What are common symptoms of head and neck cancers?

The signs and symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or a sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty in swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice. These symptoms may also be caused by other, less serious conditions. It is important to check with a doctor or dentist about any of these symptoms. Other symptoms may include the following:

Oral cavity.

A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, or lining of the mouth; a swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable; and unusual bleeding or pain in the mouth.

Nasal cavity and sinuses.

Sinuses that are blocked and do not clear, chronic sinus infections that do not respond to treatment with antibiotics, bleeding through the nose, frequent headaches, swelling or other trouble with the eyes, pain in the upper teeth, or problems with dentures.

Salivary glands.

Swelling under the chin or around the jawbone; numbness or paralysis of the muscles in the face; or pain that does not go away in the face, chin, or neck.

Pharyngeal.

Trouble breathing or speaking; pain when swallowing; pain in the neck or the throat that does not go away; frequent headaches, pain, or ringing in the ears; or trouble hearing.

Laryngeal.

Trouble breathing or speaking, frequent headaches, pain or ringing in the ears, or trouble hearing.

Larynx.

Pain when swallowing, or ear pain.

These symptoms may be caused by cancer or by other, less serious conditions. It is important to check with a doctor or dentist about any of these symptoms.

Source: National Cancer Institute (NCI): Head and Neck Cancer information webpage.

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