Important information

A person with a suspected head and neck cancer should be referred to a specialist who is member of a relevant multidisciplinary team.

All specialists listed on Canrefer are members of a multidisciplinary team.


What is head and neck cancer?

Head and neck cancer is cancer that starts in any part of the head or neck. This can include the mouth, tongue, gums, tonsils, pharynx, larynx, nasal cavity or sinuses. A head and neck cancer is named after the part of the head or neck where it starts. For example, laryngeal cancer starts in the larynx.

Graphic of the human body


What tests are needed?

Common tests used to diagnose a head and neck cancer include:

  • physical examination
  • imaging - x-ray, CT scan, PET scan and/or MRI scan
  • blood tests
  • endoscopy
  • biopsy.


What treatment options are there?

Treatment for a head and neck cancer may include one or more of the following:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • targeted therapy
  • radiotherapy.

Treatment for head and neck cancer is specialised and complex, and patients may need to travel to have parts of their treatment. The local health district will have an arrangement in place for this.


How common is head and neck cancer in NSW?

Head and neck cancer was diagnosed in:

  • 2014
    1179 people in NSW
  • 2013
    1198 people in NSW
  • 2012
    1123 people in NSW

Data source: Annual NSW cancer incidence and mortality dataset, 2014 (sourced from the NSW Cancer Registry)

Last updated: 20 September 2018
Better cancer care

Better cancer care

Every person with cancer should have their care overseen by a specialist on a multidisciplinary team.

Head and neck cancer pathway

The nationally recognised optimal care pathway for head and neck cancer management in Australia.
Quick reference guide
Optimal care pathway