About Head and Neck Cancers

Most head and neck cancers begin in the tissue that lines the head and neck, and they may spread into deeper tissue as the cancer grows. Other cancers that develop in the head and neck are not considered head neck cancers because the type of cancer they are, and treatment is different for eye cancer, brain cancer and esophageal cancer.

What are the Symptoms of Head and Neck Cancer?

  • Sores in the mouth or throat won’t heal and may be painful
  • You have trouble swallowing
  • Your voice is hoarse, or you have a change in the sound of your voice
  • A lump in the neck
  • You have a sore throat that won’t go away

What are the Risk Factors for Developing Head and Neck Cancer?

  • Age over 50
  • You are male
  • You use tobacco and drink moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol: your risk is higher if you do both
  • For cancers of the tonsils and the tongue, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a risk factor
  • Have infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
  • Exposure to wood dust and other toxins increases your risk for nose, upper throat and sinus cancer
  • Prior history of head or neck cancer
  • If you are Asian, you are higher risk for upper throat cancers

How is Head and Neck Cancer Diagnosed?

  • You’ll need a physical exam of the area that may contain cancer
  • X-rays, MRIs, ultrasound or CT may be ordered if cancer is suspected
  • You may need an endoscopy and a biopsy to collect cells from the area that might be cancerous

How can you Prevent Head and Neck Cancer?

  • Limit alcohol use or avoid alcohol altogether
  • Get regular dental exams
  • Do not smoke or quit smoking
  • HPV vaccinations can help prevent head and neck cancer

What Influence does the G.I. Microbiome Have on Head and Neck Cancers?

The microbiome of the mouth and periodontal disease are cancer risk factors because they cause a disruption in the microbiome. Dysbiosis induces inflammation which is a driver of cancer growth. There are specific bacteria that play a role in cancer development and should be identified and treated. The risk factors described above and dysbiosis of the microbiome increases cancer risk.

Hyperion Functional Medicine conducts detailed studies of the G.I. microbiome and impacts inflammation, cancer growth and proliferation through gut healing reducing inflammation and treating bacteria which increase head neck cancer risk.

Contact Hyperion Functional Medicine to learn more about head and neck cancers.


  • https://medlineplus.gov/headandneckcancer.html#
  • Dorobisz K, Dorobisz T, Zatoński T. The Microbiome's Influence on Head and Neck Cancers. Curr Oncol Rep. 2023 Mar;25(3):163-171. doi: 10.1007/s11912-022-01352-7. Epub 2023 Jan 25. PMID: 36696075; PMCID: PMC9947050.