The actual burden of head and neck cancer in India is much greater than reflected through the existing literature and hence can be regarded as a 'tip of iceberg' situation. This has further been evident by the recent reports of 'Net-based Atlas of Cancer in India'. South-east Asia is likely to face sharp increases of over 75% in the number of cancer deaths in 2020 as compared to 2000. Since the percentage increase of Indian population has been nearly twice that of the world in last 15 years there is a likelihood of increase in cancer burden with the same proportion. The distribution of population based cancer registries is grossly uneven with certain important parts of the country being not represented at all and hence the current cancer burden is not reflected by registry data. However, the pathetic situation of health care system in major parts of the country as also emphasized by the World Bank, is not suitable to provide anywhere near accurate data on cancer burden. Head and neck cancer (including thyroid lesions) is third most common malignancy seen in both the sexes across the globe but is the commonest malignancy encountered in Indian males. Also oral cavity cancer is the most prevalent type amongst the males and one of the highest across the globe. This article reviews the latest global and national situation with an especial emphasis on head and neck cancer. Furthermore this review focuses on burden in different sub sites at national and global levels.