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Every year around 12,000 people in Britain are diagnosed with head and neck cancers. Cancer Research UK announced that incident rates for head and neck cancers have increased by a third since the early 1990s. The face can hold many clues as per a person’s risk to the disease with these four to spot.

The symptoms of a head and neck cancer depend on where in the head and neck the cancer started.

Another determining factor regarding early signs to spot include whether or not it has spread anywhere nearby such as the lymph nodes in the neck.

According to Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, the four signs of head and neck cancer found on the face include a mouth ulcer, lump in the jaw or mouth, pain and weakness in the face and white or red patches in the mouth.

The most common type of head and neck cancer is squamous cell carcinoma (squamous cell cancer).

Roughly nine out of 10 head and neck cancers (90 percent) start in squamous cells.

Squamous cells line the mouth, nose and throat.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is usually not life-threatening, though it can be aggressive.

Untreated, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin can grow large or spread to other parts of your body, causing serious complications.

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Other signs include:

  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty moving the jaw
  • Ear pain or hearing loss
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sore throat
  • White or red patches in the mouth or throat
  • Weight loss

According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America, clindamycin breastfeeding safety the ears, nose and throat are the most common areas affected by head and neck cancers.

It states: “Symptoms of this cancer may depend on where the cancer develops and how it spreads.

“In addition to physical signs of head and neck cancer, these tumours often cause symptoms that are similar to less serious conditions, like the common cold.

“Changes in voice, headaches, sore throat or a cough may be symptoms of throat cancer.”


Alcohol and tobacco use (including smokeless tobacco, sometimes called “chewing tobacco” are the two most important risk factors for head and neck cancers, especially cancers of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx, said the National Cancer Institute.

The health site added: “At least 75 percent of head and neck cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol use.

“Tobacco and alcohol use are not risk factors for salivary gland cancers.

“Infection with cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus (HPV), especially HPV type 16, is a risk factor for some types of head and neck cancers, particularly oropharyngeal cancers that involve the tonsils or the base of the tongue.”

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