While almost half of us will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point in our lives, in many cases, there are often no specific reasons why this might happen. Yet, there are many types of cancer that are associated with certain risk factors, and throat cancer is one of them.
Here are some of the most common risk factors associated with throat cancer.
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for many different types of cancer, and especially for all cancers of the throat. Put simply: the more tobacco you smoke, the higher your risk.
According to the NHS, tobacco chemicals damage the lining of the throat and larynx (voice box). If you smoke over 25 cigarettes daily or have been a smoker for at least 40 years, your risk of developing cancer of the throat, particularly laryngeal cancer, increases 40 fold compared to that of a non-smoker. The good news though is that, no matter how long or how much you have smoked, quitting reduces your risk of throat cancer.
Researchers also believe there may be a link between increased risk of throat cancer and passive smoking.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also increased your risk of getting throat cancer. Regular consumers of alcohol are three times more likely to get cancers of the throat compared to those who don’t drink.
If you smoke and drink, your chances of having throat cancer increase even more, so cutting these out or reducing levels can help to lower your chances of being affected.
Some forms of human papillomavirus, or HPV, are known to put you at higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. In particular, the middle part of the throat, known as the oropharynx, is the area of the throat often most associated with increased cancer risk from HPV infection, according to the American Cancer Society.
Eating a diet low in fruit and vegetables and high in processed meats can also put you at a greater risk of developing throat cancers, so eating a healthy diet can help to reduce that risk.
Your risk of developing throat cancer, particularly in the larynx, is doubled if you have a parent, sibling or child who’s diagnosed with this condition. While there’s not much you can do to prevent family links to this disease, it’s important to be on the lookout for symptoms such as:
- Constant hoarseness for about 4 weeks
- Difficulty swallowing
- A persistent cough or sore throat
- A lump in the neck
- Unexplained ear pain
Harmful substance exposure
If you’ve been exposed to substances such as:
- Paint fumes
- Coal dust
at high levels for a long period of time, your risk of getting throat cancer increases.
Whatever your risks, if you’re suffering from any worrying throat symptoms, book a consultation with Mr. Wale Olarinde, our experienced ear, nose, throat, head and neck surgeon.