Do All Types of Head and Neck Cancer Exhibit the Same Symptoms?

Because there are so many different types of head and neck cancer, it’s important to know that there’s no such thing as a "standard" set of symptoms. Some people experience very few warning signs until their cancer has started to spread, while others notice something out of the ordinary right away.

Many symptoms of head and neck cancer can also be caused by other, less serious conditions, such as sinus infections and strep throat. If you’re experiencing anything unusual, a physician can evaluate your symptoms and help you determine what sort of testing might be appropriate. Even though there’s a good chance that something other than cancer is causing your symptoms, you should still bring them to the attention of a medical professional and discuss the next steps.

Symptoms of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer

Laryngeal cancer develops in the voice box, while hypopharyngeal cancer develops in the lower part of the throat. The most common symptoms of both cancers include hoarseness, constant coughing, difficulty swallowing and a sore throat that does not go away.

Symptoms of oral cancer

Oral cancer can develop anywhere in the mouth, including the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue and palate (roof). The most common symptoms are sores and swollen spots inside the mouth, red or white patches on the lips, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, loss of otherwise healthy teeth and a feeling that something is stuck in the throat.

Symptoms of nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer

Nasal cavity cancer develops in the small passageway just behind the nose. Paranasal sinus cancer develops in the small, air-filled bubbles around the nasal cavity. These cancers typically cause facial pain, nosebleeds, post-nasal drip, watery eyes, changes in vision and nasal congestion that doesn’t go away.

Diagnosing head and neck cancer

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we diagnose and treat all types of head and neck cancer. You are welcome to consult with an oncologist with or without a physician’s referral. To request a visit, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.