Head and Neck Cancers

Let's Talk About Head and Neck Cancers

We've got the doctor-approved scoop on causes, symptoms, treatments, and a jillion other facts and tips that can make life with these diseases easier.

    Our Pro PanelHead and Neck Cancers

    We went to some of the nation's top experts on head and neck cancers to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Salvatore M. Caruana, M.D.

    Salvatore M. Caruana, M.D.Director of the Division of Head and Neck Surgery

    New York-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia University Medical Center
    New York, NY
    Nadia Mohyuddin, M.D.

    Nadia Mohyuddin, M.D.Head and Neck Surgical Oncologist, Associate Professor of Clinical Otolaryngology

    Houston Methodist Hospital
    Houston, TX
    J. Kenneth Byrd, M.D.

    J. Kenneth Byrd, M.D.Chief of Head and Neck Surgery, Medical Director and Research Director

    Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University
    Augusta, GA
    Head & neck cancers statistics including age when cancers occur, percentage of cancers caused by tobacco and alcohol, number of new patients in 2020, survival rate for cancers detected early, rate of men with head and neck cancers compared to women
    Nikki Cagle
    Head and neck cancers risk factors include your ancestry, the epstein-barr virus, where you work, your oral health, chewing paan, and radiation exposure
    Nikki Cagle
    Common treatments for head and neck cancers include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy
    Nikki Cagle

    Frequently Asked QuestionsHead and Neck Cancers

    Are head and neck cancers curable?

    Yes, or highly treatable. As with all cancers, the earlier you're diagnosed, the better. For instance, the overall five-year survival rate for oral and oropharyngeal cancers is 65%, but if diagnosed at an early stage it jumps to 84%.

    Does it matter if my cancer is caused by HPV?

    In terms of treatment, yes. Head and neck cancers caused by HPV generally have a better prognosis (outcome) and may need less intense treatment. In some cases, HPV-caused cancer can be cured through surgery alone.

    Should I join a clinical trial?

    Participating in these research studies has definite pluses: You may be among the first to receive a better treatment, and the costs of an expensive drug or procedure that you may not have been able to afford are often covered. Downsides? The new treatment may not better than what’s already available, there may be unexpected side effects, or it may not work for you.

    Are there screening tests for head and neck cancers?

    There is no one screening test for these cancers, like there is for breast cancer (mammograms) or cervical cancer (pap smears). Get your annual physical and tell your doctor if you use tobacco or drink alcohol. It’s also important to get regular dental checkups because dentists are trained to look for head and neck cancers as well.

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood

    Stephanie Wood is a award-winning freelance writer and former magazine editor specializing in health, nutrition, wellness, and parenting.