Disease and Drug Information
Head & Neck Cancer
Arizona Oncology offers an integrated team-oriented approach to provide you with the best possible care. We are also eager to explain the facts and answer your questions at every step along the way. Our team of dedicated, highly-trained physicians and staff is committed to providing the highest quality compassionate care to our patients.
We understand that a new diagnosis of head or neck cancer can be overwhelming. Our team of experts will arrange your consultation quickly so you can get the information you need. We will help you, and your family, make individualized treatment decisions in partnership with our medical team. During this process, you will gain the knowledge and confidence to help manage your cancer and continue with routine activities of daily life.
Arizona Oncology has offices located throughout the State where you will receive state-of-the art treatment in a caring and comfortable environment close to home, work, and family.
What are cancers of the head and neck?
Cancers that are known collectively as head and neck cancers usually begin in the squamous cells that line the moist, mucosal surfaces inside the head and neck (for example, inside the mouth, the nose, and the throat). These squamous cell cancers are often referred to as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Head and neck cancers can also begin in the salivary glands, but salivary gland cancers are relatively uncommon. Salivary glands contain many different types of cells that can become cancerous, so there are many different types of salivary gland cancer.
Cancers of the head and neck are further categorized by the area of the head or neck in which they begin. These areas are described below and labeled in the image of head and neck cancer regions.
Oral cavity: Includes the lips, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the gums, the lining inside the cheeks and lips, the floor (bottom) of the mouth under the tongue, the hard palate (bony top of the mouth), and the small area of the gum behind the wisdom teeth.
Pharynx: The pharynx (throat) is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that starts behind the nose and leads to the esophagus. It has three parts: the nasopharynx (the upper part of the pharynx, behind the nose); theoropharynx (the middle part of the pharynx, including the soft palate [the back of the mouth], the base of the tongue, and the tonsils); the hypopharynx (the lower part of the pharynx).
Larynx: The larynx, also called the voicebox, is a short passageway formed by cartilage just below the pharynx in the neck. The larynx contains the vocal cords. It also has a small piece of tissue, called the epiglottis, which moves to cover the larynx to prevent food from entering the air passages.
Paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity: The paranasal sinuses are small hollow spaces in the bones of the head surrounding the nose. The nasal cavity is the hollow space inside the nose.
Salivary glands: The major salivary glands are in the floor of the mouth and near the jawbone. The salivary glands produce saliva.
Cancers of the brain, the eye, the esophagus, and the thyroid gland, as well as those of the scalp, skin, muscles, and bones of the head and neck, are not usually classified as head and neck cancers.
Sometimes, cancerous squamous cells can be found in the lymph nodes of the upper neck when there is no evidence of cancer in other parts of the head and neck (1). When this happens, the cancer is called metastatic squamous neck cancer with unknown (occult) primary. More information about this cancer type can be found in Metastatic Squamous Neck Cancer with Occult Primary (PDQ®).
Arizona Oncology's Head and Neck Cancer specialized services:
Individualized Treatment Planning
Our program is designed to provide patients and their loved ones with the knowledge to help choose the course of treatment that best fits their needs, in collaboration with a specialized medical team. Advances in head and neck cancer research now allow us to plan personalized treatment based on the specific biologic characteristics of your cancer, resulting in better outcomes and fewer side effects. During your consultation, you will learn about treatment options for head and neck cancer. We will take the time and opportunity to answer your questions and ensure that you understand the reasoning behind our recommendations.
Arizona Oncology will work with patients to answer any questions or concerns you many have about your care. We can direct you to resources for financial assistance programs, community resources, supportive care programs, and more. Nurse Navigators are available at some locations. Feel free to ask your provider for more details.
Our participation in high-priority clinical trials through US Oncology Research may provide early access to new therapies that are not available elsewhere. We believe in clinical research, and hope that you will consider participating in the development of new treatments through innovative research, making strides to ensure that tomorrow’s care will be even better than today’s
Multidisciplinary Case Review
Your medical team will perform an in depth review of your case to enhance communication and guide individualized treatment recommendations. This will generally include input from surgical oncology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, reconstructive surgery, pathology, and genetics.
Testing and Treatment
Arizona Oncology offers the latest treatments in head and neck cancer and our team provides the most informed, individualized treatment recommendations. Genetic counseling and screening for patients and their families are available some locations. Feel free to ask your provider for more details.
Our scheduling staff will work with patients to arrange convenient appointments.
Visit the National Cancer Institute where this information and more can be found about Head & Neck Cancer including side effects of treatments, support information and more.View All Types of Cancer