Understanding the Types of Head and Neck Cancer
Understanding the Types of Head and Neck Cancer from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.
Which cancers are considered “head and neck cancer”? Expert Dr. Ari Rosenberg shares an overview of the types of head and neck cancer and their location in the body.
Dr. Ari Rosenberg is a medical oncologist and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine. Learn more about Dr. Rosenberg.
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Well, let’s start by understanding what head and neck cancer is. Is it a group of cancers?
Yeah, that’s a great question. So, head and neck cancer is really any type of cancer that develops from the head and neck area. Generally arising from sometimes the mouth, the throat, the voice box are some of the more common areas, but even the sinuses or the nasal cavities are some other areas where head and neck cancer can arise.
The majority of head and neck cancers are actually called squamous cell carcinoma. About 95 percent are squamous cell carcinomas, and they tend to arrive from the mucosal lining of some of these different parts of the head and neck area.
However, the other 5 percent are other types of head and neck cancers, such as salivary gland cancers, or other rare types of cancers that can also arise in the head and neck.
And within head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, there’s really two different types that we think about – in 2023 at least. One is HPV-associated squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck, which is associated with a virus called HPV, or human papillomavirus. And, of course, we also see HPV-negative, or non-HPV-related cancers, which are the squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck that can be associated, for example, with smoking or alcohol as the major cause of effect.