Head and Neck Cancer: Symptoms

What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer?

Many people with head and neck cancer have symptoms such as these:

  • Growth or sore in the mouth

  • Lump in the neck

  • Lump or sore inside the nose that won’t heal

  • Sore throat that does not go away

  • Feeling that something is stuck in the throat

  • Blocked sinuses or nasal congestion that won’t clear

  • Chronic sinus infections

  • Cough or hoarseness that does not go away

  • Coughing up blood

  • Trouble swallowing, speaking, or breathing

  • Frequent headaches or pain around the nose, cheeks, or forehead

  • Frequent nosebleeds or ones that don’t stop

  • Weakness in the muscles of the face

  • Double vision

  • Numbness in the face

  • Pain in the ear, face, chin, neck, upper back, jaw, or upper teeth

  • Ringing in the ears or hearing problems

  • Swelling of the eyes or under the chin or around the jaw

  • Vomiting

  • Bad breath even when proper oral hygiene is practiced

  • Red or white patches in the mouth

  • Loose teeth

  • Loose dentures

  • Unexplained weight loss 

When to see your healthcare provider

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems. But it is important to see your healthcare provider if you have these symptoms. Only a healthcare provider can tell if you have cancer. It's common for people with these symptoms to be sent to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, called an otolaryngologist or a head and neck surgeon, to be checked.