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Head and Neck Cancer

  201-227-6008    |      cancer@holyname.org

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Head and neck cancers typically begin in the cells that line the moist surfaces within the head and neck. They are generally squamous cell cancers and develop on the inside of the mouth, nose, throat, larynx or salivary glands.

About 65,000 people are diagnosed each year with head and neck cancers in the United States. These cancers usually develop in people over 50, in twice as many men as women.

The Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name has a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and skilled head and neck surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses and support staff to diagnose and treat head and neck cancers. Together they provide a compassionate, unified approach in creating a personal strategy for each patient's unique medical, emotional and lifestyle needs.


  • Lump that doesn't go away
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Bleeding-oral or nasal
  • White or red patch on the gums
  • Ear pain or trouble hearing
  • Chronic sinus infections that don't get better with antibiotics
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain

Risk Factors

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • HPV infection
  • Preserved or salted foods in childhood
  • Poor oral health
  • Occupational exposure to wood dust or formaldehyde
  • Radiation exposure
  • Epstein Barr virus
  • Asian ancestry
  • Male sex


  • Physical exam
  • Endoscopy
  • Biopsy
  • Blood and urine tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • PET scan


Head and neck cancers can be treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, or a combination of these approaches. The PLCC team chooses a specific approach for each patient based on the location of the cancer and whether it has spread.