Review: Head & Neck Cancer

Here is what we have learned from Introduction to Head & Neck Cancer:

  • Head and neck cancers are often referred to as squamous cell carcinomas because most head and neck cancers begin in the squamous cells that line the structures found in the head and neck.
  • Cancers of the head and neck are further identified by the area in which they begin; these areas include oral cavity, salivary glands, paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, and pharynx, which consists of nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx.
  • Head and neck cancers account for 3 percent of all cancers in the United States.
  • Head and neck cancers are more common in men and in people over age 50.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use are the most important risk factors for head and neck cancers, particularly those of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx.
  • Other risk factors for cancers of the head and neck include the following:
    • Asbestos, nickel, and polyvinyl chloride exposure
    • Mustard gas exposure
    • Certain professions
    • Poor oral hygiene
    • Sun exposure
    • Chronic irritation
    • Direct contact with tobacco
    • Certain ethnic origin
    • Epstein-Barr virus exposure
    • Familial clusters
    • Radiation