April 17th, 2024
3 min read

Reducing the Risk of Developing Head & Neck Cancers

  • by Nicholas Heiskell

Head and neck cancers are a significant health concern in the United States, with an estimated 68,000 new cases diagnosed each year. These types of cancers can develop in a range of areas, including the mouth, throat, nasal cavity, sinuses, larynx (voice box), and salivary glands. They are characterized by their location and can include various types such as oral cavity cancer, pharyngeal cancer, and laryngeal cancer.

Demographically, head and neck cancers are twice as common in men as they are in women, and they are more frequently diagnosed in individuals over the age of 50 compared to younger age groups.

Preventive measures and early detection are crucial in mitigating the impact of head and neck cancers. Here are some tips to reduce your risk and protect your health:

  1. Regular Dental Exams: Schedule annual dental check-ups that include screenings for oral cancer. Dentists are trained to detect early signs of abnormalities in the mouth and throat.

  2. Avoid Tobacco Products: The use of tobacco in any form—whether smoking, chewing, or vaping—significantly increases the risk of developing head and neck cancers. Quitting tobacco is one of the most effective ways to lower your risk.

  3. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption is another major risk factor for head and neck cancers. Moderation or avoidance of alcohol can help reduce your risk.

  4. HPV Vaccination: The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection that has been linked to an increased risk of oral cavity cancer, particularly HPV-16. The HPV vaccine is recommended for both males and females aged 11 to 46 as a preventive measure against certain HPV-related cancers.

  5. Early Detection: Pay attention to any changes or abnormalities in your mouth, throat, or neck, such as persistent sores, lumps, or difficulty swallowing or speaking. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention promptly. Early detection significantly improves treatment outcomes.

For more information on head and neck cancers, including additional prevention tips and resources, visit our head and neck cancer navigator page. Educating yourself about the risks and taking proactive steps towards prevention and early detection can help safeguard your health against these types of cancers.

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