A number of risk factors for throat cancer have been identified. They include:
- Tobacco use, especially chewing tobacco or snuff
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Asbestos exposure
- Exposure to wood dust or other industrial irritants
- Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts
- Not enough fruits and vegetables in the diet.
- Poor dental care
- X-rays of the head or neck.
Tobacco and alcohol use are the greatest risk factors for throat cancer. Also, people who use both tobacco and alcohol are more likely to develop throat cancer than people who use only one or the other. Certain ethnic groups may be more likely to develop some types of throat cancer. If you believe you are at risk for throat cancer, see your doctor and ask about ways to reduce your risk.