Types of Head and Neck Cancers

At the Henry Ford Cancer Institute, we treat all types of cancers of the head and neck with the most minimally invasive techniques available. Our specialists focus exclusively on diagnosing and treating head and neck cancers, giving a depth of expertise that’s unparalleled in the region.

Understanding Head and Neck Cancers

When head and neck cancers develop, they usually occur in the cells that line the moist, mucus-producing areas of the mouth, throat and nose. These cells are called the squamous cells, and cancers in these areas may be called squamous carcinoma (cancer). Sometimes, cancer in the head and neck region will occur in the thyroid gland or skin.

Types of Head and Neck Cancers

We are experts in diagnosing and treating the full range of head and neck cancers, including:

  • Oral cancer: Oral, or mouth cancer (also called oral cavity cancer) makes up about 85% of head and neck cancers. This type of cancer begins in the mouth, tongue, gums, lips or tonsils.
  • Nasal cancer: Nasal cancer may begin in the paranasal sinus or nasal cavity. The paranasal sinuses are hollow spaces around the nose and air passes through the nasal cavity from the nose on the way to the throat.
  • Throat cancer: The throat is also called the pharynx. It includes several parts, including the nasopharynx (behind the nose), the oropharynx (where the throat meets the mouth), the hypopharynx (where air and food pass through the throat) and the larynx (voice box).
  • Thyroid cancer: The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the throat and makes thyroid hormones, which help the body regulate its metabolism. Some tumors of the thyroid are benign (non-cancerous).
  • Salivary gland cancer: The salivary glands are located beneath the tongue and in other parts of the mouth. These glands release saliva, the fluid that keeps the mouth moist and is part of the digestive process.
  • Skin cancer of the head and neck: Skin cancer often starts in the head and neck region because it is the area of the body that receives the most sun exposure. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer of the head and neck. Melanoma is the least common but most serious because of it is more likely to spread.

Refer a Patient

To refer a patient or consult with Henry Ford’s head and neck cancer specialists, call (877) 434-7470. Learn more for referring physicians.

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