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Distinguishing among the various types of head and neck cancer comes down to describing the exact part of the head and neck region that contains the cancerous cells. Here is a breakdown of the five main types:

Laryngeal and Hypopharyngeal Cancer

The larynx or “voice box” is a tube-shaped organ in the neck that we use for breathing, swallowing and talking. The top of the trachea – what we often call the windpipe – is where the larynx is found. Surrounding the voice box is the hypopharynx, and it is subject to abnormal growths as well.

Risk factors for this cancer may include smoking and excessive drinking.

Nasal Cavity and Paranasal Sinus Cancer

The nasal cavity is the area behind the nose where air moves into the throat for breathing. The paranasal sinuses are inside the cavity.

Risk factors include repeated exposure to airborne chemicals or dust, having had the human papillomavirus (HPV) and/or being male and older than 40.

Nasopharyngeal Cancer

The air passageway at the upper part of the throat is called the nasopharynx. Cancers in this part of the body are fairly rare but are more common in people of Asian descent.

Oral and Oropharyngeal Cancer

The mouth and tongue make up the oral cavity. The mid-throat area between the tonsils and the larynx is called the oropharynx.

Smoking and having been exposed to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) may contribute to the development of this cancer.

Salivary Gland Cancer

The salivary glands produce saliva in the mouth, which our bodies need to keep the mouth moist. Saliva also contains enzymes that aid in the process of food digestion. Salivary gland cancers often are benign and can be removed. However, others are malignant and often require radiotherapy after surgery is performed.

Get Started on Your Treatment Journey

If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these types of head and neck cancer, and would like to start on a treatment plan, the team at our Anchorage cancer center are ready to help. Reach out to us today for an appointment.

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