Head and Neck Cancer

What is Head and Neck Cancer?

Cancers may arise in the lining of the nose, mouth, throat or voicebox. Depending on where the cancer started, it may be more specifically called an oral cancer (when it started in the mouth or tongue), an oropharyngeal cancer (when it started in the tonsil or base of tongue) or larynx cancer (when it started in the voicebox).

Sometimes, some of the cancer cells will detach from the site or origin and drift into lymph nodes in the neck. When this happens, the cancer is said to have spread or metastasized.

Lymph nodes are specialized filters within the body, containing immune cells that help to ward off infection. When cancer cells become trapped in a lymph node, they may grow into a lump that can be felt through the skin. Someone may become aware of a lump in the neck but have no other symptoms such as a sore in the mouth or throat.

In recommending treatment, doctors consider where the cancer started, its extent or size, and whether it has spread. Doctors have also have started to consider the cause of the cancer in recommending specific types of treatment.

Treatment Options for Head and Neck Cancer

In recommending treatment, doctors consider where the location of the cancer, its extent or size, and whether it has spread. Treatments for oral cavity cancer may be quite different from those for oropharynx, larynx or nasal cancers.

Sarcoma Stories of Hope Patient Stories from Fox Chase Cancer Center

Head and Neck Cancer Patient Stories

From surgery to chemotherapy to reconstruction, Fox Chase helped Patricia Cantwell in her recovery from cancer of the jaw.

Learn more about her journey and the experience of others treated for sarcoma at Fox Chase.

Sometimes, the unique features of a cancer suggest that it could be controlled successfully using one of several different treatments. For example, some patients with cancer on the vocal cord could have cancer removed surgically with a laser, or they may undergo radiation treatments. Either approach is likely to be effective. On the other hand, a patient with a more advanced cancer may require the coordinated treatments of several doctors to successfully control the cancer. For example, some patients with cancer may need radiation, even after surgery removes the cancer, to increase the odds that the cancer will not recur.

At Fox Chase Cancer Center, patients often meet with more than one doctor during their initial evaluation. A coordinated evaluation by doctors with specialized areas of expertise will ensure that treatment will not only successfully cure the cancer, but also suit the specific needs of the patient and preserve quality of life.

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Nurse Navigator


Your nurse navigator is your personal guide through your Head and neck oncology treatment and recovery journey

Your Nurse Navigator will be there to assist you at every step along the way, from the first call through follow-up visits.

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U.S. News and World Report Names Fox Chase Cancer Center Among the "Best Hospitals" in the Nation for Cancer Care

US News and World Report Best

Fox Chase is ranked as high performing in ear, nose, and throat treatment.

Blue Distinction

Blue Cross/Blue Shield
Fox Chase is a Blue Distinction Center for Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
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