Cancer Types – Head and Neck Cancer

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Head and Neck Cancer: Overview

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 06/2014

Types of head and neck cancer

There are five main types of head and neck cancer, each named according to the part of the body where they develop. For more information about a specific type, click on one of the names below.

Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer. The larynx is commonly called the voice box. It is a tube-shaped organ in the neck that is important for breathing, talking, and swallowing. It is located at the top of the windpipe, or trachea. The hypopharynx is also called the gullet. It is the lower part of the throat that surrounds the larynx.

Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer. The nasal cavity is the space just behind the nose where air passes on the way to the throat. The paranasal sinuses are the air-filled areas that surround the nasal cavity.

Nasopharyngeal Cancer. The nasopharynx is the air passageway at the upper part of the throat behind the nose.

Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer. The oral cavity includes the mouth and tongue. The oropharynx includes the middle of the throat from the tonsils to the tip of the voice box.

Salivary Gland Cancer. The salivary gland is tissue that produces saliva, which is the fluid that is released into the mouth to keep it moist and that contains enzymes that begin breaking down food.

Other types of cancer can also be located in this area of the body, but the diagnosis and treatment are much different. Specific information about brain tumors, esophageal cancer, eye cancer, parathyroid cancer, sarcoma, and thyroid cancer is available in separate sections on Cancer.Net.

Read more about head and neck cancer here.

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