Head and neck cancer is a heterogeneous group of malignant diseases that comprise multiple sites of origin and various histopathology. Squamous cell carcinoma constitutes 70% of all cancers in the head/neck region, and the remaining are different types of adenocarcinomas, sarcomas, and others.
The head-neck region is defined as:
- nasal cavity/paranasal sinuses
- oral cavity
- pharynx (naso-, oro-, and hypopharynx)
- salivary glands
Head and neck cancer constitutes about 2 % of the total number of new cancer cases in Norway. The incidence is higher in middle and southern Europe and in parts of Asia.
In Norway, there is a decreasing tendency for some localizations, but a change to lower ages at debut has been observed. The average age is about 64 years and the disease affects more men than women.