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Head and Neck Cancers

Cancers that are known collectively as head and neck cancers usually begin in the squamous cells that line the mucosal surfaces of the head and neck (for example, those inside the mouth, throat and tonsils). These cancers are referred to as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Head and neck cancers can also begin in the salivary glands, sinuses or muscles or nerves in the head and neck. Thyroid cancer also is considered a head and neck cancer at Summa Health.

Since each type of head and neck cancer is unique, with different signs, symptoms, risk factors and prevention strategies, the healthcare professionals at Summa Health combine the latest technology with a comprehensive course of cancer treatment options. We take a multidisciplinary approach to care and coordinate care between ENT, plastics/reconstruction, medical oncology, radiation oncology, dental care, supportive services and more.

Head and Neck Cancer Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of head and neck cancers can include:

  • Swelling or a sore that does not heal in the head or neck area
  • Lump, bump or mass in the head or neck area, with or without pain
  • Sore throat
  • Red or white patch in the mouth
  • Foul mouth odor 
  • Hoarseness or change in voice
  • Persistent nasal congestion
  • Frequent nose bleeds and/or unusual nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Double vision
  • Numbness or weakness of a body part in the head and neck region
  • Pain or difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue
  • Jaw pain
  • Blood in the saliva or phlegm
  • Dentures that no longer fit or loose teeth
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Ear pain or infection

Head and Neck Preventive Cancer Screenings

It is a good idea to have a yearly physical examination by your primary care physician of the head and neck and oropharynx (the middle section of the throat that includes the soft palate, the base of the tongue and the tonsils). In addition, you should also have a yearly routine dental evaluation including an examination of the mouth.

Head and Neck Cancer Treatment

Many cancers of the head and neck can be cured, especially if they are found early. At Summa Health, we offer the latest treatments for head and neck cancers, with a full range of services tailored for you and your unique needs.

Although eliminating the cancer is the primary goal of treatment, preserving the function of the nearby nerves, organs and tissues are also very important. When developing a treatment plan, we consider how treatment might affect a person’s quality of life, including how an individual feels, looks, talks, eats and breathes.

Head and neck cancers are usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. Treatment recommendations are based on a number of factors including: 

  • Your personal treatment goals
  • Size and location of the lesion
  • Biopsy results
  • Involvement of lymph nodes
  • Type of cancer and how aggressive it is

Oral Cancers

In 2022, the American Cancer Society estimates about 54,000 new cases of oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer will be diagnosed in the United States.

Tonsil Cancer

Tonsil cancer begins when cancerous cells develop in the tonsils and can occur in people with or without the surgical removal of their tonsils. 

Throat Cancers

Learn more about throat cancers, it's symptoms, risk factors and treatment. 

Thyroid Cancer

Close to 53,000 Americans are diagnosed with thyroid cancer each year.

Patient Stories

Watch real patient stories of life changing care and how it impacted their lives.

Meet Our Team

Our physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of Head and Neck Cancers.


Summa Health offers convenient locations in the greater Akron area. 


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