Head and neck cancer may first be noticed when it is small or when it has grown and is more advanced. The first signs vary depending on the area of the head and neck affected. It might start as a subtle change in appearance in the lining of the mouth or tongue or a change in the voice box. It may be found incidentally at a dental examination. It may show up as symptoms such as hoarseness, pain in the mouth or the throat, difficulty swallowing or a swelling in the neck.
Research has shown that if cancer can be diagnosed early then the chances of cure are greatest. This is because there is less chance that it will have spread and will usually be a small size.
Early diagnosis also means treatment can often be more localised which speeds recovery.