Head & Neck cancer

Head & Neck cancer affects areas such as forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, sinuses and any glands or lymph nodes found in this region. Brain cancer, although situated in this region is treated differently, as it affects a vital organ that is part of the central nervous system. The head and neck region has many important organs located closely to each other. When considering treatment options, it is essential to consider the impact on neighbouring organs. To determine suitable treatment for the cancer, a consultant would need information on where the tumour began and how far it has spread.


Early and late symptoms can vary depending on the site of the tumour and its size. Some common symptoms may include:

Oral cancer:

  • Mouth ulcer or sore that does not heal
  • A lump inside the mouth
  • Pain in the mouth, jaw, ear or surrounding regions

Throat cancer:

  • Dysphagia - difficulty in swallowing
  • Changes in voice, hoarseness
  • Weight loss

Nasal and paranasal sinus cancer:

  • Persistent nasal congestion and stuffiness in the nose or sinuses
  • Frequent nose bleeds or unusual discharge from nose
  • Pain or numbness in the nose, above or below eyes, or face


A diagnosis can be made through various scans and tests. The doctor may carry out physical examination to palpate and feel for any lumps in the suspected region, which may be accompanied by the use of a mirror and torch. Most common scans for head and neck region are CT or MRI scans, which may also include the use of a contrast agent. A whole-body PET scan would show any areas with active cancer in the whole body.

A combination of scans, tests and biopsies can confirm details of the size, location and spread of the cancer. It is helpful to have all diagnostic details and test results to hand at a consultation appointment with our oncology specialists.

Benefits of treating head & neck cancer with proton beam therapy

Tumours in the head and neck region are in close proximity to many organs. As a proton beam does not have an exit dose, it is possible to treat the cancerous area whilst reducing the radiation dose delivered to normal healthy tissue surrounding it. This may have the effect of reducing the side effects of treatment to allow quicker recovery from treatment and possibly reducing the experience of long-term dry mouth and improving swallowing function. The aim of proton therapy is to produce better long-term results with an improved quality of life.

At the Rutherford Cancer Centres, there are certain organs and tumour sites we can treat more effectively with proton beam therapy. A consultant will be able to assess this and advise on the best treatment pathway.

Further information & support

Being diagnosed with head & neck cancer and deciding on the best treatment can be daunting,  for full details on head & neck cancer treatment options or to discuss a diagnosis, please contact our enquiries team. Our enquiries team will endeavour to help you assess your treatment options and advise which consultants could be best placed to plan your treatment pathway.

Proton Beam Therapy


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If you'd like to speak to us about any of the treatments we offer please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0800 210 0402 or

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