Head and neck cancers

Noticing symptoms

Head and neck cancers

Noticing symptoms

Cancers and other diseases can cause symptoms. These are changes in your body that you notice. Examples of symptoms are having a cough, a pain or a lump.  

Symptoms can be caused by many illnesses, not just cancer, but it is always best to have them checked out by a GP. 

What you need to know

Symptoms of head and neck cancer

Common symptoms that may be caused by head and neck cancers include:

  • a sore or ulcer that doesn’t heal
  • pain in the mouth, throat, or ears, or pain when swallowing
  • red or white patches on the tongue, gums or mouth
  • bleeding from the mouth or in the saliva (spit)
  • trouble opening the mouth
  • lump in the throat or neck
  • loose teeth or dentures
  • persistent nose bleeds
  • a blocked, stuffy or runny nose, particularly if it is only on one side
  • frequent headaches
  • blurred vision
  • trouble swallowing
  • a change in the voice
  • weight loss that can’t be explained
  • pressure behind the teeth
  • numbness or tingling in the face
  • drooping of one side of the face
  • pressure in the neck when lying down.
Most symptoms are not caused by cancer, but it is always best to see your doctor about symptoms. Cancers that are diagnosed early can be easier to treat.

Next steps

What to do if you have symptoms

If you have symptoms that you are worried about, even if they seem minor, you should go to see a GP. Don't be embarrassed to bring up your concerns. 

Remember, cancers that are found earlier can be easier to treat.

Where to get help

There are people you can talk to for more information or support.

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