Head and neck cancer is the second most prevalent type of cancer in the world. It accounts for 6% – 7% of all human cancers, with about 650,000 new cases diagnosed every year. It is one of the deadliest forms of cancer.
The rate of new cases has been increasing rapidly since the beginning of this century. The highest frequency is observed in Eastern Asia and in countries of the North-Atlantic region. The disease affects men more often than women.
The most common site of head and neck cancer is the oral cavity. Throat cancer (carcinoma of the larynx) is the second most common type, followed by cancers of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.
Head and neck cancers arise from different cell types in the head and neck region. The cells that give rise to head and neck cancers can come from any of the following:
– Oral cavity: cancer of the lips, tongue, cheeks, gums, floor of the mouth, or roof of the mouth
– Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses: cancer of the nose, sinuses, or nasopharynx
– Larynx: cancer of the voice box
– Salivary glands: cancer of the parotid gland, submandibular gland, or sublingual gland.
The cause of head and neck cancer is not fully understood.