Head and Neck Cancers

Head and neck conditions include a wide range of malignant (cancerous) and benign diseases, including cancers of the larynx, pharynx or salivary glands, HPV-associated growths, advanced cancers of the skin in the head and neck region (melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinoma) or chronic salivary gland infections.

Overview and Symptoms

The symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or a sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty in swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice. Symptoms may affect specific areas of the head and neck including:

  • Oral cavity
  • Pharynx
  • Larynx
  • Paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity
  • Salivary glands
A doctor evaluates your medical history, performs a physical examination, and orders diagnostic tests. If the diagnosis is cancer, the doctor will want to learn the stage (or extent) of disease.


Your treatment depends on a number of factors, including the exact location of the cancer, the stage of the cancer, and your age and general health. Treatment for head and neck cancer can include:

  • Surgically remove tumors
  • Radiation therapy: using high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy: using drugs to target cancer cells
  • Combination of these treatments

Cancer Center

At the Cancer Center at BIDMC, expert physicians, researchers and staff offer 20 specialty programs that deliver compassionate, leading-edge care. The team is committed to breakthrough treatments delivered with kindness and respect. 

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Otolaryngology - Ear, Nose and Throat

We provide a range of comprehensive services, including state-of-the-art evaluation, advanced, multidisciplinary treatment, and follow-up care for patients with ear, nose, throat disorders; voice and swallowing disorders; and cancers and non-malignant conditions of the head and neck.

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