Head and neck cancer

At the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre we know that a cancer diagnosis is a life changing event. We also know that every cancer is different, just like every person is different. We are dedicated to supporting and guiding you throughout your care. On this page you can learn about symptoms of head and neck cancer and the potential treatment pathway.

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What is head and neck cancer?

Cancer of the head and neck is abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth in the mouth, salivary glands, nose, sinuses and throat. Most cases of head and neck cancer start in the cells that line the mouth, nose and throat. These are called squamous cells. 

What are the symptoms of head and neck cancer?

If you have any of the following symptoms please see your doctor. These symptoms may also occur for ailments other than cancer. Your doctor will advise if you need tests and where you should go to have these tests. 


  • Pain in the head or neck area
  • Difficulty swallowing , chewing, breathing or speaking
  • Hoarse voice
  • Nosebleeds or bleeding mouth
  • Swelling in the head or neck area
  • A lump or sore in the head, mouth or neck area that won’t go away
  • Bad mouth odour that can’t be explained
  • A lingering cough
  • Change in hearing, eyesight or sense of smell
  • Red or white patches in the mouth or gums
  • Pressure, pain or ringing in the ears
  • Infection or blockage in the sinuses that does not go away
  • Coughing up blood
This information should not be used to replace medical advice.

Can I be treated at the ONJ Centre?

Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, your doctor or specialist can make a referral to the ONJ Centre for your cancer treatment. You can ask to be referred here, regardless of your insurance status or the stage of your treatment. The ONJ Centre is part of Austin Health, a leading Australian public hospital.

how to get a referral