Cancer from A to Z

Types of cancer, how to prevent them, diagnosis and treatment.


Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancer is a term used to describe cancers that originate in the head or neck area. Cancers of the head and neck are often identified by the site in which they originate.

Traditionally, sites of head and neck cancer include:

  • Oral cavity (mouth, lips, gums, cheeks, tongue, tonsils and mouth floor)
  • Salivary glands
  • Nasal cavity / paranasal sinuses / nasopharynx
  • Throat / pharynx
  • Larynx / voice box

Tumors treated in MD Anderson include, but are not limited to those of the:

  • Upper aerodigestive tract, including mouth, jaw, throat and larynx
  • Thyroid
  • Skin of the head and neck, including melanoma
  • Salivary glands
  • Nose and paranasal sinuses
  • Ear and temporal bone
  • Neck and metastases to the neck
  • Sarcomas of the head and neck
  • Tumors of the skull base
  • Head and neck tumors in children
  • Otolaryngologic maladies in patients with tumors elsewhere in the body

Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancers vary depending on the particular type of cancer.

Symptoms of head and neck cancers vary by cancer type. General symptoms may include:

  • Swelling, soreness, pain (face, throat, neck, mouth, etc.)
  • Sores that don’t heal or lumps that don’t go away
  • Paralysis on one side of the face
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • A change or hoarseness in the voice

Having one or more of the symptoms listed above does not necessarily mean you have a head and neck cancer. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since they may indicate other health problems.

Jornada donde se trataran temas relacionados con el cáncer de cabeza y cuello; conoce más sobre este cáncer, cuidados de la boca y adaptación alimentaria durante los tratamientos.
Te invitamos a un nuevo encuentro de nuestro café coloquio donde abordaremos el cáncer de cabeza y cuello, y todos los riesgos que conlleva el tabaquismo de la mano de nuestras profesionales:  Dra. Pilar López Criado y Sra. Patricia Pradera.  ¡Apúntante! Será el 21 de abril de 17:30 a 19:30 en nuestro auditorio. 
Las doctoras Pilar López Criado, jefa de la Sección de Tumores de Pulmón, Cabeza y Cuello, y Melanoma, e Inmaculada Orellana, del Servicio de Oncología Médica, presentan las últimas novedades médicas e investigaciones sobre los tumores de cabeza y cuello. 

At the moment there are no courses of Head & Neck Cancer

Clinical trials
Ensayo de fase 1a/2a, abierto y multicéntrico, para investigar la seguridad, tolerabilidad y actividad antitumoral de dosis repetidas de Sym015, una mezcla de anticuerpos monoclonales dirigida frente al receptor MET, en pacientes con tumores malignos sólidos en fase avanzada
Estudio fase IIIB, prospectivo, randomizado, abierto que evalúa la eficacia y seguridad de Heparina/Edoxaban versus Dalteparina en tromboembolismo venoso asociado con cáncer.
Tumores sólidos. Antiemesis Estudio fase III, multicéntrico, aleatorizado, doble ciego, con control activo para evaluar la seguridad y eficacia de Rolapitant en la prevención de náuseas y vómitos por la quimioterapia (NVIQ) en pacientes que reciben quimioterapia altamente emética (QAE). A phase III, multicenter, randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study of the safety and efficacy of Rolapitant for the treatment of Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in subjects receiving highly Emetogenic Chemotherapy (HEC)
Ensayo clínico en fase I de determinación de dosis del antiangiogénico multidiana Dovitinib (TKI258) más paclitaxel en pacientes con tumores sólidos.

The risk of developing several head and neck cancers can be reduced through lifestyle choices. Other risk factors are attributed to the environment and cannot be changed or controlled.


Tobacco (including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff) and alcohol consumption are the two most common causes of head and neck cancer. Heavy tobacco and alcohol intake together greatly increases the risk.


Additional risk factors may include:

  • Human papilloma viruses (HPV)
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Wood dust or metal nickel inhalation

Early detection of head and neck cancers are very important for the best possible outcome. If found early, many head and neck cancers are considered curable. Understanding the risks and symptoms of head and neck cancers can lead to an earlier diagnosis. Any problems you find in your mouth, throat, nose and lymph nodes in your neck should be discussed with your doctor promptly.

Treatments for head and neck cancers include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these treatments. Before deciding on the best treatment option, it is important to understand how that treatment option may affect the way the person eats, breathes, looks and/or talks. Many head and neck patients will require rehabilitation after treatment, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and/or reconstructive surgery.

Treatment techniques used with this disease are:

  • Virtual CT simulation
  • Intense modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): we use very high-dose radiation therapy (70Gy) with altered fractions (220 cGy/day) and the nonconmitant boost technique.
  • Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT)