30
August
2017
|
07:40 PM
America/New_York

Who is at risk for head and neck cancer?

There are several factors that might make one person more likely to get head and neck cancer than another person.

“People who regularly smoke or drink alcohol, or are exposed to more virulent strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) would be people who would be more at risk,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network otolaryngology surgeon Chetan Nayak, MD, of LVPG Ear, Nose and Throat. “Anyone in that category who finds a neck mass that doesn’t go away, or has hoarseness or a sore throat that lasts longer than two weeks, or perhaps mouth bleeding, should see a physician as soon as possible.”

Some of the more common risk factors for head and neck cancer include:

  • Tobacco use. Smokers are more likely to get head and neck cancer than nonsmokers.

  • Alcohol consumption. Some reports have found people who drink alcohol heavily (2 or more drinks a day) are at an increased risk.

  • Gender. Head and neck cancer is 2 to 3 times more common in men than in women.

  • Race. Some types of head and neck cancer are more common among African Americans.

  • Sun exposure. Spending a lot of time in the sun without protecting your skin and lips is linked to cancer in the lip area as well as skin cancer on the face, head, and neck.

  • Certain infections. Some human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infections are strongly linked to head and neck cancer.

  • Age. People older than age 40 are at increased risk for head and neck cancer.

  • Poor mouth care. Not taking care of the mouth and teeth may increase the risk of head and neck cancer.

  • Poor diet. A diet that is low in some vitamins and minerals might increase the risk of head and neck cancer.

  • Workplace exposures. People exposed to wood dust, paint fumes, asbestos, and some other chemicals appear to be at increased risk for head and neck cancer.

  • Weakened immune system. People whose immune system is suppressed, such as people who have had organ transplants, are at higher risk for some kinds of head and neck cancer.

Do you have questions about head and neck cancers? Download our free information guide to learn more.