Department of Otolaryngology

Prevention & Risk Factors

Anyone can get head and neck cancer. But knowing prevention and risk factors can help reduce your chances of acquiring these types of cancers.


Reducing head and neck cancer risks requires lifestyle changes, such as:

  • A healthy diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Eliminating tobacco and alcohol use

Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your health and reduce cancer risks.

Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancers

There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of getting head and neck cancers.

They include:

  • Environmental risk factors
  • Behavioral risk factors
  • Genetic (predisposed traits) risks


  • Exposure to known carcinogens, such as industrial toxins (asbestos and benzenes)
  • Repeated exposure to chemicals in tobacco and tobacco smoke


  • Tobacco use
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol use


Predisposed to inheriting gene mutations from parents