As with many types of cancer, the risk of developing a head and neck cancer may be increased by certain lifestyle behaviors and environmental factors, such as smoking and exposure to carcinogens.
Risk factors for head and neck cancer also depend on the location and type of cancer. The risk factors listed below reatly increase the risk of head and neck cancer:
• Tobacco and alcohol use
Tobacco (including smokeless tobacco) and alcohol use are the most important risk factors for head and neck cancers, particularly those of the tongue, mouth, throat and voice box.
85% of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco use. Cigarette smoking increases your risk of head and neck cancer by 15 times compared to a non-smoker. However, people who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk for developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone. (Source: National Cancer Institute)
Infection with the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus appears to be responsible for the rise in cancers of the oropharynx (tonsil and base of tongue) in younger nonsmokers and is related to oral sex.
HPV-related head and neck cancer occurs in both people who smoke and those who do not smoke.
Risk increases with age. Head and neck cancers most often occurs in people over the age of 40.
• Sun Exposure
Cancer of the lip can be caused by sun exposure.
A diet low in fruits and vegetables may play a role in head and neck cancer development.
Exposure to high doses of radiation therapy, particularly in the head or neck region has been known to cause head and neck cancers.
When in doubt, check it out!
If you or someone you love any of these risk factors, please encourage them to stop by our FREE Head and Neck Check at North Grove Medical Center on Tuesday, April 22 from 5-6pm.
The exam is painless and takes only a few minutes. Early detection is key!