How can head and neck cancer be prevented?

The most effective prevention strategy for head and neck cancer continues to be the cessation of behaviors such as smoking, use of chewing tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption. Eighty-five percent of head and neck cancers are related to tobacco use.  
Research has linked the increase of oral cancer incidence in young adults, a population traditionally at low risk, to the rise of human papillomavirus (HPV), a cancer-causing virus that can be transmitted through oral sex.
Oral, head and neck cancer refers to a variety of cancers that develop in the head and neck region, such as the oral cavity (mouth), the pharynx (throat), paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, the larynx (voice box), thyroid and salivary glands, the skin of the face and neck, and the lymph nodes in the neck.
W. Chad Spanos, MD
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Heavy smoking and drinking raise your risk of these cancers, so quitting those vices is a good start. Check out this video with Dr. Chad Spanos, an ear, nose and throat medical oncologist, to learn about a vaccine that may also help prevent head and neck cancers.

The following are preventive measures for head and neck cancer:
  • Quit smoking.
  • Limit alcohol intake to two or fewer drinks per day.
  • Improve your diet by eating the following:
  1. five fruits and vegetables each day
  2. whole grains, breads, cereals, pastas, rice and beans
  3. fewer red meats and processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages, and lunch meats
  • Avoid human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.
  • Tell your doctor about any lump or sore in your mouth that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty swallowing, or a change or hoarseness in your voice.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.