Head and Neck Cancer: A Guide for Patients

Guides for Patients are designed to assist patients, their relatives and caregivers to better understand the nature of different types of cancer and evaluate the best available treatment choices.

What is head and neck cancer?

Head and neck cancers are a group of cancers that form in the tissues of the upper aerodigestive tract (lips, tongue, mouth, throat and larynx or voice box) or the sinuses and nasal cavity.
Most head and neck cancers originate from the squamous cells making the lining of these tracts and cavities and are therefore called squamous cell carcinomas. These cancers are the topic of the current guide.

Beyond a definition of head and neck cancer, in this guide for patients you will find answers to questions such as:

  • Are head and neck cancers frequent?
  • What causes head and neck cancers?
  • How are head and neck cancers diagnosed?
  • What is important to know to get the optimal treatment?
  • What are the treatment options?
  • What are the possible side effects of the treatments?
  • What happens after the treatment?

This guide for patients has been prepared in collaboration with Anticancer Fund as a service to patients, to help patients and their relatives better understand the nature of head and neck cancers and appreciate the best treatment choices available for squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. ESMO recommends that patients ask their doctors about what tests or types of treatments are needed for their type and stage of disease.

Patient Guide for Head and Neck Cancer was published in 2015.