What is head and neck cancer?
Head and neck cancer is an umbrella term that refers to cancer that begins in the head or neck region of the body. The types of head and neck cancer are named after the area in which they originate, such as oral cancer, which forms in the oral cavity, and throat cancer, which develops in the throat.
Because most head and neck cancers form in the surface layer of the tissue, where the cells are flat and squamous, most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas.
Head and neck cancers account for about 3 percent of all cancers in the United States. The majority of head and neck cancer patients are over the age of 50. Men are two to three times more likely to develop the disease than women.
Head and neck cancer incidence
Approximately 48,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with head and neck cancers in 2017. More than twice as many men than women have head and neck cancer. As a group, these malignancies (including cancers of the mouth) account for about 3 percent of all cancers in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. About 10,000 people are expected to die from head and neck cancer in 2017. Fortunately, the number of people with head and neck cancer and mortality associated with this disease has been decreasing over the past 20 years.