Understanding head and neck cancer
April 2, 2021
What is head and neck cancer?
Head and neck cancer is a term used to describe a number of different malignant tumors that develop in or around the throat, larynx (voice box), nose, tonsil, sinuses and mouth.
Areas of the head and neck where cancers begin
Head and neck cancers are commonly
diagnosed in people
The incidence of head and
neck cancer is
There are several factors that greatly increase the risk of head and neck cancer:
Tobacco & Alcohol Use
Tobacco and alcohol use are two of the biggest risk factors for head and neck cancers. At least 75% of cases are linked to tobacco and alcohol use, and secondhand smoke may also increase a person’s risk. People who use both tobacco and alcohol are at greater risk of developing these cancers than people who use either tobacco or alcohol alone.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
People infected with HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, are more likely to develop head and neck cancer. For most people, HPV clears on its own. But for those who do not clear the virus, it can cause certain head and neck cancers later in life. In fact, HPV is thought to cause 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S.
Other risk factors include:
Prolonged sun exposure
Poor oral/dental hygiene
In the U.S. …
it is estimated that nearly
new cases of head and neck cancer will be diagnosed in 2021.*
*Oral cavity/oropharyngeal and laryngeal/hypopharyngeal cancers