Health awareness

Understanding head and neck cancer

April 6, 2021

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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.

Other risk factors include:

Prolonged sun exposure

Epstein-Barr virus


Poor oral/dental hygiene

Environmental/occupational inhalants

Poor nutrition

it is estimated that nearly


new cases of head and neck cancer were diagnosed in 2020.*

*Lip and oral cavity, oropharynx, larynx, hypopharynx, nasopharynx and salivary gland cancers