Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms

Head and neck cancer symptoms can affect specific areas of the mouth, throat, larynx, nose or sinuses. In most cases, the malignant growths develop in the squamous cells that form the surface layer (epithelium) above the moist tissue (mucosa) of the various head and neck structures, and cause symptoms that are localized to the immediate area. Because the signs can vary, and because many common symptoms of head or neck cancer can also be caused by other, less serious conditions, it is important to always be vigilant for health changes and to follow up with a physician whenever anything unusual occurs.

Some general warning signs and symptoms of head and neck cancer include:

  • A mouth sore that bleeds easily or does not heal within a few days
  • A red or white patch on the gums, tongue or cheek lining
  • A swelling, lump or thickness in the neck or face
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Chewing or swallowing difficulties
  • Mouth or tongue numbness
  • Persistent hoarseness or vocal changes
  • Blood in the sputum
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Chronic nasal congestion or sinus infections
  • Ear pain
  • Loose teeth or dentures that no longer fit well
  • A mole on the head or neck that changes in size or color

In Moffitt Cancer Center’s Head and Neck Cancer Program, our multispecialty team collaboratively assesses each patient’s symptoms and test results. After confirming a diagnosis of head or neck cancer, this unique tumor board will develop a highly individualized treatment plan and closely monitor the patient’s progress. Whenever appropriate, we recommend participation in our clinical trials, which provide patients with early access to promising new therapies that are not yet available in other settings.

If you have questions about head and neck cancer symptoms, you do not need a referral to consult with the outstanding team of experts at Moffitt, where we offer a full range of treatments and supportive care services in a single, convenient location. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT or complete a new patient registration form online.