Cancer starts when cells rapidly grow out of control. Cancers specific to the head and neck can start in the sinuses, inside or behind the nose, in the mouth, tongue or gums, and in the back of the mouth or throat. There are several tumors that can appear in the head and neck, such as:

Head and Neck Cancers
  • Skin Cancer
  • Tonsil Cancer
  • Throat Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancers

At least 75% of head and neck cancers are caused by tobacco and alcohol use. Tobacco products that can cause cancer include cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco. Additionally, wine, liquor or beer can increase the risk of head and neck cancer. Working with substances like wood dust, nickel, asbestos and formaldehyde can also increase the risk of these cancers.

There are several symptoms of head and neck cancer:

  • White or red sores in the gums, tongue or lining of the mouth that do not heal
  • Lump in the head or neck area (with or without pain)
  • Unusual bleeding or pain in the mouth
  • Change in voice
  • Trouble breathing or speaking
  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Problems with dentures
  • Jaw pain or difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the tongue
  • Blocked sinuses or chronic sinus infections that don’t go away with antibiotics

According to, head and neck cancers make up for approximately 4% of cancers in the United States. They are diagnosed most often among people over 50 years old. Men are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with head and neck cancers than women.

There are ways that you can reduce the risk of getting head and neck cancer. First, quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products. Also, be sure to avoid secondhand smoke. You should also limit your alcohol intake. Other preventative measures include visiting your dentist regularly, wearing lip balm with sunscreen, avoiding indoor tanning and protecting yourself from the sun when you are outdoors.

Treatment plans for head and neck cancers can vary depending on the stage of the cancer, location of the tumor and the person’s general health. To find out if you have head and neck cancer, Dr. Shuaib will evaluate your medical history and order diagnostic tests. The exams vary depending on the symptoms.

If the diagnosis is cancer, Dr. Shuaib will need to learn the extent of the disease to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. He will then provide an accurate treatment plan.

Dr. Stefan Shuaib is one of the top head and neck surgeons in Texas and provides on-site diagnosis and treatment in the Rio Grande Valley. If you are concerned about any changes or symptoms you have been experiencing, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib by calling (956) 362-8125.