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Head and neck cancer

Head and neck cancer symptoms

The ears, nose and throat are the most common areas affected by head and neck cancers. Symptoms of this cancer may depend on where the cancer develops and how it spreads.

For example, tumors in the larynx or pharynx may be discovered as a lump in the throat. Cancer in the mouth may cause sores in the mouth or swelling of the jaw.

In addition to physical signs of head and neck cancer, these diseases 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. Pain or ringing in the ears may also accompany certain head and neck cancers.

Some common head and neck cancer symptoms include:

  • A lump in the nose, neck or throat, with or without pain
  • A persistent sore throat
  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent coughing
  • Change in voice or hoarseness
  • Ear pain or trouble hearing
  • Headaches
  • A red or white patch in the mouth
  • Bad breath that's unexplained by hygiene
  • Nasal obstruction or persistent congestion
  • Frequent nose bleeds or unusual discharge
  • Trouble breathing
Learn about treatments for head and neck cancer