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Tobacco and alcohol use are two of the most prominent risk factors for oral cavity and throat cancer. However, it is important to note that risk factors only suggest a possibly higher chance of developing cancer, and are not indications that a person is certain to develop cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, at least three of every four cancers of the head and neck are caused by tobacco and alcohol use. Moreover, individuals who use tobacco and alcohol together have a greater risk of developing oral cavity or throat cancer than those who use either product alone.

Other risk factors for developing oral cavity or throat cancer include:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – This virus has been linked to the development of oropharyngeal cancers that develop in the tonsils or the base of the tongue.
  • Poor diet – Some research has shown that a lack of fruits and vegetables in one’s diet may increase the chance of developing oral cancer.
  • Poor oral health – Missing teeth and generally poor oral hygiene may contribute to the development of some cancers of the mouth and oropharynx. Also, the use of mouthwash with a high alcohol content may contribute to the development of cancers in the oral cavity.
  • Personal history – Individuals who have had cancers of the head or neck in the past are at an increased risk due to the chances of reoccurrence. 

Moffitt Cancer Center has been designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, in part because of our cutting-edge research efforts and robust clinical trial program, developing new, more effective treatment options. Our multispecialty team of surgeons, oncologists, nurses and other medical professionals work collaboratively to oversee each patient’s progress, giving him or her focused, individualized attention. 

If you are concerned about oral cavity or throat cancer risk factors, contact Moffitt Cancer Center. You never need a referral to speak with our oncologists specializing in head and neck cancers, who can help you determine whether Moffitt’s Head and Neck Oncology Program is right for you. Call 1-888-663-3488, or fill out our new patient registration form.