This is a group of cancers which involve the lining of the swallowing and breathing passages. Specific cancer sites include the lips, tongue, buccal mucosa, tonsil, mandible, maxilla, larynx and pharynx. The overwhelming majority are squamous cell carcinoma, which have a different behaviour when compared to Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC). These cancers are associated with smoking and alcohol consumption and present as ulcers, pain or lumps in the above-mentioned sites, or dysfunction with swallowing or voice. Occasionally, they can present with ear pain due to the same nerve supply of the throat and ear.
However, a large proportion of patients present with lymph node enlargement in the neck suggesting that the cancer spread were detected at a late stage. The treatment modalities include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The role of each depends on the tumour site, stage, the individual's overall health, and the chance of function (speech and swallowing) preservation.