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Cancer starts when body cells grow out of control, multiplying and crowding other normal cells. Most cancers eventually form a tumor that can often be seen on an image (such as a CT, MRI, or PET scan) or sometimes felt as a lump during an exam.
Some tumors that form in the body are benign (noncancerous), meaning they do not grow into surrounding areas or spread in the body. Malignant (cancerous) tumors grow into nearby tissues or spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Some cancer tumors grow faster than others.
What are head and neck cancers? Head and neck cancer is the term used for a group of various cancers that form in the soft tissue inside the head and neck. Brain cancer is not included in this group because it has different features and is treated by different doctors.
Head and neck cancers make up about 4% of all cancers in the United States. Each cancer type is categorized by where in the head or neck it begins.
What is oropharyngeal cancer? Oropharyngeal cancer forms in the oropharynx. This section of your throat runs from the back of your mouth to your larynx, or voice box. It includes:
Tonsils: C-shaped tissue in the back of the mouth that connects the top of the mouth (palate) with the back portion of the tongue
Base of tongue: Back part of your tongue that goes down into your throat
Soft palate: Top of your mouth behind your back teeth (soft palate)
Pharyngeal walls: Sides and back of the top of your throat
The Stanford Medicine Online Second Opinion program offers you easy access to our world-class doctors. It’s all done remotely and you don’t have to visit our hospital or one of our clinics for this service. You don’t even need to leave home!
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.