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Head Cancers

Head Cancers

Head cancers ordinarily start in the squamous cells that line the damp, mucosal surfaces inside the head (for instance, inside the mouth and the nose). These squamous cell cancers are also known as squamous cell carcinomas of the head. Head cancers can also start in the salivary glands; however, salivary gland cancers are pretty uncommon. Salivary glands contain various sorts of cells that can get malignant, so there are many different types of salivary gland cancers. Sometimes, the cancerous cells are found in lymph nodes without any evidence of cancer in other parts of the head. This type of cancer is called metastatic squamous cancer.

In India, around 30–40% of all cancers are head and Neck Cancers

Causes of head cancer:

  • Smoking
  • Tobacco chewing
  • Gutkha chewing
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Paan (betel quid)
  • Preserved or salted foods
  • Poor oral hygiene or missing teeth
  • Occupational exposure to wood dust, certain jobs in construction, textile, ceramic logging and food industry
  • Radiation exposure
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection
  • Heredity


Treatment depends upon the location of the cancerous cells, the stage of cancer, health and age of the person. Treatment of head cancers includes surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of treatments.

Some symptoms of head cancers are:

  • A white or red patch on the gums or the tongue
  • Swelling in the jaw
  • Bleeding or pain in the mouth
  • Trouble breathing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Frequent headaches
  • Bleeding through the nose
  • Pain in the neck
  • Trouble hearing
  • Pain while swallowing
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