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    Causes and Risk Factors For Head & Neck Cancer

    Causes and Risk Factors For Head & Neck Cancer

    January 5, 2024

    Head and neck cancer is a group of cancers that arise from the salivary glands, larynx, sinuses, mouth cavity or in the throat. Many of these tumours often have the same risk factors and can bring about severe impairment to one’s capacity for speech, eating or even breathing.

    Since this medical condition is so complicated, it is crucial to know its origins and risk factors, as well as look for innovative treatment alternatives such as those available at Apollo Hospitals. Head and neck cancer represents the most widespread type of cancer in developing countries. In addition, they affect men more often than women. 57.5% of all cases worldwide of head and neck cancers are reported in India. Rising rates of tobacco intake over time have resulted in India currently accounting for about 60% of all cases globally of head and neck cancer.

    What Causes Head and Neck Cancer?

    Usually, aberrant DNA alterations in squamous cells on the mucous membrane surface result in head and neck cancer. The consequence is that the cells start to expand and divide abnormally. The majority of the time, extended exposure to certain carcinogens causes DNA alterations. Several factors contribute to the development of head and neck cancer, with the most prevalent being tobacco and alcohol use. It’s a well-known fact that most people link smoking—more especially, the chemicals in smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes—to lung cancer. But a lot of people don’t know that one of the main causes of head & neck cancer is the high nicotine concentration found in all tobacco products, including chewables.

    Nicotine induces squamous cell mutations by irritating the epithelium. Because of the altered growth patterns brought about by genetic mutations, cells multiply far more quickly than they would normally. The rapidly proliferating cells then gather to create a tumour, which gets bigger the more cells that get added to it. Because poisons like nicotine may harm mucosa and epithelium, they can enter the circulation and spread throughout the body, which is known as metastasis or the spread of cancer.

    Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancer

    The most frequently affected demographics of head and neck cancer include men and elders above the age limit of 50 years. In addition to age and sex, the largest risk factors are smoking, excessive alcohol consumption as well as HPV infections.

    Depending on the kind of cancer, there are different risk factors:

    • Tobacco Use: Tobacco smoking is the most common risk factor for head and neck epithelial cancers. 70% to 80 % of these cancers have been associated with cigarette smoking. Tobacco products consist of chewing tobacco, snuff or dip and cigar smoking and pipe. Another factor that could increase your risk is whether you are exposed to secondhand smoke.
    • Drinking Alcohol: Overindulging in alcohol might make you more vulnerable. It is advised that individuals who consume alcohol limit their intake to one drink per day for women and persons AFAB and two drinks per day for males and people AMAB.
    • HPV Infection: In particular, among younger individuals, the incidence of head & neck cancers linked to HPV infection is rising.
    • UV Radiation: Salivary gland cancer has been related to radiation therapy for either benign or malignant tumours, but the risk is minimal. Prolonged exposure to UV rays, particularly for lip cancer.
    • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): EBV has been linked to cancer risk in addition to the condition that is most frequently associated with mono. Studies indicate nasopharyngeal carcinoma may be caused by EBV infection.
    • Weak immune system: Your body’s ability to combat cancer is hampered by a compromised immune system. Cancer originating from compromised immune systems has been linked to both HIV infection and recent major procedures (such as organ or bone marrow transplants).
    • Genes: The risk of cancer may be increased by your genes. If you smoke, your genes may increase your risk of developing cancer.
    • Bad dental hygiene: The risk of oral cancer and periodontal disease might be raised by neglecting your teeth and gums.
    • Occupational Hazards: Exposure to certain chemicals and poor oral hygiene also contribute.

    How Can I Reduce My Chances of Developing Head and Neck Cancers?

    Most head and neck cancers are preventable with certain actions. To keep yourself safe:

    • Avoid Tobacco: Give up using tobacco in any form to lower your chance of head and neck cancers (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff, dip, and chewing tobacco).
    • Reduce Your Alcohol Intake: You can lower your chance of developing certain cancers by cutting back on or giving up drinking.
    • Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Regular dental checkups and oral care are essential.
    • Sun Protection: Sunscreen helps prevent UV radiation from contributing to the development of skin cancer, so it’s crucial to limit sun exposure by wearing it every day when you’re outside. Protect lips and skin from excessive sun exposure by using UV lip balm or covering them up. Sunburns have been linked to an increase in the incidence of skin cancer over time. Spending a lot of time outside should prompt you to wear protective clothing, such as long sleeve shirts, trousers and wide-brimmed hats.
    • HPV Vaccination: Consult your physician on the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccination can stop newly contracted cases of the HPV strains that typically result in oropharyngeal and other malignancies. Certain age groups are the only ones for which vaccinations are advised.
    • Maintain a Healthy Diet: Consuming a healthy, well-balanced diet is essential for maintaining general health. Consuming meals rich in macro & micro nutrients and low in cholesterol, saturated fats, and refined carbs has been associated with a lower chance of developing cancer.
    • See a Doctor Frequently: Regular medical checkups with a healthcare provider are always recommended to detect any precancerous tissue early on before it spreads further into the body. If not detected soon enough upon initial onset, it can lead to more serious health issues later on, such as tumours in the lymph nodes surrounding the throat area. Therefore, getting checked frequently can help catch potential problems early on.

    Why Choose Apollo Hospital?

    Apollo Hospital’s comprehensive team of specialists, advanced equipment, and individualised treatment make it an unparalleled option for head and neck cancer. At Apollo Hospitals, Karnataka, we use a comprehensive approach and provide the most sophisticated care that maximises efficacy while minimising discomfort, such as minimally invasive operations and precision radiation therapy.

    In addition to medical treatments, we offer full support services, assisting patients at every stage of their journey with anything from dietary advice to psychological assistance. Apollo Hospitals is a ray of hope for people with head and neck cancer because of its dedication to research, which guarantees access to the newest advancements and produces excellent treatment outcomes and high-quality care.

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