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Consumer Health: 4 types of head and neck cancer | Health

Head and neck cancers account for nearly 4% of all cancers in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. These cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women and are diagnosed more often in people over the age of 50.

Among the many types of head and neck cancer, there are four:


This is a rare type of cancer that begins in the upper part of the nasal cavity. The area where esthesioneuroblastoma begins is separated from the brain by bone that contains tiny holes that allow the passage of nerves that control smell. Esthesioneuroblastoma is also called olfactory neuroblastoma.

Signs and symptoms of esthesioneuroblastoma include loss of sense of smell, frequent nosebleeds, and difficulty breathing through the nostrils as the tumor grows.

Lip cancer

Lip cancer can occur anywhere along the upper or lower lip, but is most common on the lower lip. Risk factors include excessive sun exposure and tobacco use, especially the pipe. You can reduce your risk of lip cancer by protecting your face from the sun with a hat or sunscreen and by quitting smoking.

Signs and symptoms of lip cancer include flat or slightly raised whitish discoloration of the lip; a sore on the lip that does not heal; and tingling, pain or numbness of the lips or the skin around the mouth.

Nasal and paranasal tumors

Nasal and paranasal tumors are abnormal growths that start in and around the passage in your nose. Risk factors include smoking and the presence of people who smoke, air pollution and long-term exposure to chemicals and irritants, and HPV infection.

Signs and symptoms of nasal and paranasal tumors include difficulty breathing through the nose, loss of smell, nosebleeds, and facial swelling or pain.

Throat cancer

Throat cancer can develop in the throat or larynx. Risk factors include smoking; excessive consumption of alcohol; and viral infections, including HPV and Epstein-Barr virus.

Signs and symptoms of throat cancer include a cough; voice changes, such as hoarseness or not speaking clearly; difficulty swallowing; and ear or throat pain.