What Are the Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer?

When people think about cancer, they often do not realize it can begin to grow almost anywhere in the body. Many people are not aware they can get cancer in the neck area. The neck area contains many organs and structures that can become cancerous. As with all types of cancers, it is important individuals learn about neck cancer so they will know the warnings signs. Cancer is always best treated when it is found in its earliest stages.

Symptoms That Occur With Head and Neck Cancer

There are many symptoms that can begin to occur when cancer is present in the neck or even in the head area. Sometimes, people begin to experience symptoms and do not realize they are related to cancer. Although one or two symptoms might not point to cancer as a diagnosis, those who are experiencing more than a few of the following symptoms should be seen by their doctor to rule out neck cancer.

  • Chronic pain that is felt in the neck, throat, or ears when swallowing
  • Unexplained lumps or swellings in the throat
  • Changes in the tone or volume of the voice
  • Unexplained fevers, especially occurring at night
  • Changes in neck movement and muscle weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fluid in the middle ears that becomes chronic
  • Bleeding from the nose, throat, or ears
  • Coughing up blood

Cancer can begin to grow in any part of the body. In the head and neck, common places for cancer are in the thyroid, throat, tongue, and lymph nodes. If a person suspects they may have cancer, they need to make sure they schedule an appointment with their doctor right away so the cancer can be detected as early as possible.

How Is Cancer Discovered?

Most people are diagnosed after an MRI and biopsy are carried out. With a biopsy, a small sample of tissue is taken and sent to a pathologist for testing. If a person is found to have cancer, they will undergo cancer treatments based on where their cancer is located and the type they have. Treatments may include chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation to kill the cancer.