Head & Neck Cancer

Head and neck cancers account for approximately 3-5% of all cancers in the United States. They are most common in men and people over age 50. 

At OSF HealthCare, we use a multidisciplinary team approach bringing together many different specialties to discuss the best practice for our head and neck cancer patients. This approach provides an individualized treatment plan for our patients that supports better outcomes.


Symptoms for head and neck cancer may include:

  • Bad breath even with proper oral hygiene
  • Chronic sinus infections or nasal congestion that won't clear
  • Cough, hoarseness or sore throat that does not go away
  • Coughing up blood, bleeding in the mouth or vomiting
  • Double vision
  • Frequent headaches or nosebleeds or ones that don’t stop
  • Hearing problems
  • Loose teeth or dentures
  • Lump or sore inside the nose, lips, mouth, or ear
  • Pain or numbness in the ear, face, chin, neck, upper back, jaw or upper teeth, or when swallowing
  • Red or white patches, growths or sores in the mouth
  • Swelling of the eyes, under the chin or around the jaw
  • Trouble swallowing, speaking or breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss


Head and neck cancers include several different organs and systems.

If head and neck cancer is suspected, you will have exams and tests specific to the location.

Diagnosing head and neck cancer starts with examining your health history, your symptoms, risk factors and family history of the disease.

Your primary care provider will begin with a physical exam. You may also see an ear, nose and throat specialist, called an ENT or otolaryngologist, or a head and neck surgeon.

Diagnosing may include the following tests:

Comprehensive Care

There are various treatment choices for head and neck cancer. Treatment options depend on various factors, including:

  • Type, size and location of the cancer
  • Results of lab tests
  • The extent of the disease called the stage
  • Your overall health
  • Your age
  • Your concerns and preferences

OSF HealthCare offers a full range of diagnostic tests and treatment options, including:

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