Head, Neck, & Thyroid Cancer

Head & Neck Cancer

Our Approach to Treatment

Houston Methodist provides the newest treatments for patients with head and neck cancers, diseases that can profoundly affect everyday life. We are committed to ensuring each person receives expert care in an atmosphere filled with compassion, collaboration and innovation.


Our specialists, nurses and staff are dedicated to making you as comfortable as possible, consulting with you and your doctor and developing the best treatment and rehabilitation plans for you. We strive to offer the most effective treatments, while preserving healthy tissue and cells.


Experts, including medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, reconstructive surgeons and therapists, routinely consult to guarantee each patient receives personalized care. Meanwhile, our internationally known researchers are advancing treatments to ensure the best possible outcomes.


Head and Neck Cancer Types

  • Oral – lips, gums, area behind the molars or wisdom teeth, inside the cheeks, floor and roof of the mouth and the tongue
    • Smoking, tobacco chewing and excessive alcohol use tend to increase disease risk
  • Laryngeal – voice box and vocal cords
  • Pharyngeal (throat) – tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the esophagus
    • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection increases disease risk
  • Thyroid – gland in the front of the neck below the voice box. Disease risk increases with:
    • Radiation exposure, particularly to the neck
    • Family history of thyroid cancer, goiter (swollen thyroid gland) or colon growths
    • Aging
    • Low iodine diet


  • A lump or swelling in the neck
  • A sore in the mouth that won’t heal (the most common symptom) or easily bleeds
  • A lingering red or white patch in the mouth
  • Frequent nosebleeds, persistent nasal congestion or chronic sinus infections
  • Unabating sore throat, hoarseness or voice change
  • Persistent neck, throat or ear pain
  • Blood in the sputum
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the jaws or tongue
  • Numbness in the tongue or other areas of the mouth
  • Loosening teeth
  • Dentures that no longer fit
  • Mole changes or discoloration or an ever-present crusting or open sore


  • Blood tests
  • Biopsy
  • Endoscopy
  • Imaging tests
    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
    • CT scan (computed tomography)
    • Ultrasound
    • PET scan
    • X-rays

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