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Types of Head and Neck Cancer


Updated May 25, 2006

There are several different types of head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancer encompasses malignant tissues in the head and neck region. Some doctors consider the lymph nodes in the neck to be part of the region. Head and neck cancer does not include skin cancers that occur on the face and neck.

What Parts of the Head and Neck Can Develop Cancer?

Nasal cavity. The nasal cavity is the airway behind the nose.
Paranasal sinuses. The paranasal sinuses are tiny air pockets located around the nose. Without sinuses, your skull would fell very heavy and your voice would not be as clear.
Oral cavity. The oral cavity is your mouth.
Pharynx. The pharynx is the throat. It is a 5-6 inch hollow pipe that begins behind the nose and extends to the esophagus. Food and air travel down the pharynx.
Larynx. The larynx is commonly referred as the voice box. It contains the vocal chords.
Oropharynx. The Oropharynx is part of the pharynx that connects the pharynx to the top of the throat.
Hypopharynx. The Hypopharynx is part of the pharynx that rests behind and on either side of the larynx.

Types of Head and Neck Cancer

  • Oral cancer
  • Laryngeal cancer
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers
  • Salivary gland cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer
  • Oropharyngeal cancer

Source: Memorial Sloan Ketterling Cancer Center; Head and Neck Cancer Overview
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