27th July is World Head and Neck Cancer Day. This blog is for those people who don’t know much about head and neck cancers. Cancers in the mouth, tongue, throat, nose or sinuses, salivary glands and middle ear come under head and neck cancers. The doctors normally mean the pharynx and larynx (voice box) when they talk about the throat. The majority of these cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which means these cancers begin in the squamous cells that line the mouth, nose and throat. From other types of cells, a small number of head and neck cancers may develop. Lymphomas, adenocarcinomas and sarcomas are some of these types. There are various treatment options for head and neck cancers. It is important to consult a head and neck cancer surgeon in Kolkata if surgery becomes necessary.

Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancers

Many factors increase the risk of head and neck cancers. These include:
  • Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes:

    The risk of developing many types of cancer affecting the head and neck area increase because of smoking tobacco. Mouth cancers, throat cancers and cancer of the larynx (voice box) are some of them. The risk depends on the number of cigarettes you smoke and for how many years you are smoking. Your risk of developing lip cancer also increases because you hold a cigarette or pipe on your lip while smoking.

  • Chewing tobacco or betel quid (paan):   
  • The risk of developing mouth cancer increases if you chew tobacco or betel quid (paan).
  • Drinking alcohol:

    There is a link of mouth cancer and throat cancer with drinking alcohol. The risk of developing head and neck cancers increase greatly if you smoke and drink together.

  • Gender: 

    In comparison to women, head and neck cancers are more commonly found in men.

  • Age: 

    As you get older, the risk of developing this type of cancers increases. The people over 50 years of age normally develop these cancers, although they can also affect younger people.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection:

    As per the opinion of a cancer specialist in Kolkata, there is a connection of this virus with cancers of the oropharynx and cancers at the back of the tongue. The moist membranes that line the body, such as the mouth and throat and the skin are affected by this virus. Body-to-body contact leads to the spreading of HPV.

  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection:

    This virus has a connection with some cancers of the nasopharynx.

  • Low immunity:

    Having low immunity increases the risk of head and neck cancers. There can be various reasons behind low immunity.

  • Sunlight:

    The risk of developing cancer in the outer area of the lip increases if there is exposure to sunlight for a long period.

  • Occupational exposure:

    You have more risk of developing nasal and sinus cancer and cancers of the nasopharynx if there is prolonged exposure to certain chemicals and some types of dust at work.

  • Pre-cancerous conditions:

    We get to know from the best head & neck cancer doctor in Kolkata that the risk of mouth cancer increases due to the presence of pre-cancerous conditions of the mouth. Eythroplakia (red patches) and leukoplakia (white patches) are some of these conditions.

  • Oral health:

    If you have poor oral hygiene or dental disease, you have more risk of developing mouth cancer.