Head Cancer is a cancer that starts in the lip, oral cavity (mouth), nasal cavity (inside the nose), paranasal sinuses,pharynx, and larynx.
Most head cancers are biologically similar. 90% of head cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, so they are called head squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). These cancers commonly originate from the mucosal lining (epithelium) of these regions. Head cancers often spread to the lymph nodes of the neck, and this is often the first (and sometimes only) sign of the disease at the time of diagnosis.
Head cancer is strongly associated with certain environmental and lifestyle risk factors, including tobacco smoking, alcoholconsumption, UV light, particular chemicals used in certain workplaces, and certain strains of viruses, such as human papillomavirus. These cancers are frequently aggressive in their biologic behavior; patients with these types of cancer are at a higher risk of developing another cancer in the head area. Head cancer is highly curable if detected early, usually through surgery, but radiation treatment may also play an important role, while chemotreatment is often ineffective.
HNSCC is the sixth leading cancer by incidence worldwide and eighth by death. There are 0.5 million new cases a year worldwide. Two-thirds occur in industrialized nations. HNSCC usually develops in males in the 6th and 7th decade. The five-year survival rate of patients with HNSCC is about 40-50%.