Avoiding Head and Neck Cancer

April 25, 2023 by admin

Head and neck cancer may be difficult to detect in the early stages and extremely challenging to treat when advanced, so it would obviously be ideal if one did not get it at all. Knowledge of the things that might bring on these cancers and then avoiding them would be a good way to decrease the likelihood of contracting these diseases. As such, we will now look at the predisposing factors and the appropriate measures to avoid them.

  1. Tobacco has long been a major contributor to cancer genesis. Cigarettes, pipes, cigars, smokeless tobacco (snuff, chewing tobacco, etc.) have all been proven to promote cancers of the airway and upper digestive tract. There is no safe way to take tobacco.
  2. Excessive alcohol use is also another factor which will promote the formation of head and neck cancers. Guess what: tobacco and alcohol seem to work synergistically to increase the likelihood of cancer much more than any one used alone.
  3. The human papilloma virus (HPV) has relatively recently been identified as a significant factor in causing cancer of the throat. Through virus transmission, throat cancer has been linked with oral sex. This was brought to public attention locally in 2010, long before it was generally recognized by the international media.
  4. Excessive sun and ultraviolet light exposure can lead to cancer, especially among light-skinned individuals. This can commonly affect the lower lip, ears and nose.
  5. Radiation exposure can also lead to head and neck cancer.

So what can we do to decrease our chances of getting head and neck cancer? While not a guarantee, these will definitely help:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Decrease alcohol uptake.
  • Consider HPV vaccination.
  • Use sunscreen, wide brimmed headwear and parasols as necessary for sun protection.
  • Use condoms during oral sex to lessen the chances of getting HPV.
  • Avoid unnecessary radiation and wear protection when necessary.

One may contract cancer despite studiously following these precautions. The next line of defense will be early detection of these cancers. This is something I will elaborate on in my next post.


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