Why is head and neck cancer different?

  • It’s not just one type of cancer. Head and neck cancer includes more than 10 different cancers that can affect a person’s mouth, tongue, throat, salivary glands, skin or voice box.
  • Treatment for head and neck cancer can be brutal. It affects a person’s identify unlike any other cancer. It can leave a person unable to speak, it can leave them with devastating facial disfigurements and take away basic abilities that we all take for granted like eating, breathing, speaking, drinking and swallowing.
  • In the past smoking and alcohol were the most common causes of head and neck cancers typically affecting areas like the mouth, throat and voice box.
  • Today in Australia many head and neck cancers are due to other causes including HPV – the same virus that causes cervical cancer and which can affect young, otherwise healthy, non-smoking men and women.
  • The rising incidence of tongue cancer in young, healthy, non-smoking women is unknown.