Head and Neck Cancer Causes

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Cancer is uncontrolled multiplication of cells. The cell is the basic unit of life. Cells grow, they perform their function for certain while, they divide and then they die. But, in case of cancer, the cells don't die, instead they multiply in an uncontrolled manner. These extra cells form a tissue i.e. group of cells which grows as tumor. Tumors are classified into two types-

  1. Benign tumor and
  2. Malignant tumor

Benign tumors are not dangerous as they do not spread to the nearby tissues whereas Malignant tumors are dangerous. Malignant tumors are the cancer tumors. These tumors are responsible for invading nearby tissues and stretching the cancer to other body parts. Spreading of cancer beyond one location in the body is termed as metastasis.

Cancers of oral cavities, salivary glands, paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, pharynx - Nasopharynx (upper part of the pharynx), oropharynx (middle part of the pharynx) and Hypopharynx (lower part of the pharynx), larynx (the voice-box) and the lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck.

However, cancer of eye, skin, brain, thyroid, scalp and muscles and bones of head and neck are not categorized as head and neck cancer.

Symptoms of head and neck cancer:

  • Lump in the throat
  • Problem in swallowing of food
  • Changes in derma (skin) color
  • Change in the voice
  • Swelling in the mouth
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Difficulty in the breathing
  • Consistent pain in the ear
  • Pain in the upper jaw or face
  • Blockage in the nose or bleeding of nose

Head and neck cancer causes:

  • Consumption of alcohol and tobacco is one of the major head and neck cancer causes. A study shows that in United States, most of the head and neck cancers are caused because of alcohol and tobacco. Smokeless tobacco or cigar smoking is equally detrimental for developing head and neck cancer. Cigarette smoking amplifies lifetime risk.
  • Dietary factors such as over consumption of processed foods and red meat are also one of the factor of head and neck cancer causes. Weak immune system does affect the risk of head and neck cancer. Consumption of salted fish can give rise to Nasopharynx cancer since it contains high amounts of nitrites.
  • In the case of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or larynx reflux disease, the stomach acids shoots up to the esophagus and damage its cellular lining, making it more susceptible or vulnerable for throat cancer.
  • Chewing of betel-nut increases the risk of cancer associated with squamous cell cancer of the head and neck.
  • Human Papillomavirus (HVP) is one of the informal factor for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The association of HVP with genomic DNA is one of the highest factors in distribution of tonsils. cancer statistics reveal that up to 50% cancers of tonsils are infected by HVP.
  • Leukoplakia i.e. appearance of white spots on mouth also causes cancer of oral cavity. Study shows that about one-third of Leukoplakia cases develop into cancer.
  • People who have suffered from Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) have higher risk of acquiring oral squamous cell carcinoma. It also affects immune system for lifetime.
  • Epstein-Barr virus is associated with the cancer of Nasopharynx.
  • Continuous or prolonged exposure to asbestos, nickel refining, textile fibers, paint fumes or wood dust and petroleum chemicals amount to the increase in the risk of head and neck cancer causes.

Quitting the habit of smoking, restricting the limit of intake of alcohol, refraining from consumption of tobacco and cigar are some of the habits that can be incorporated in daily life. These measures go run in a long time to prevent head and neck cancer or any health hazards. Take good head and neck care of your health, exercise on regular basis, have adequate sleep and live life tension-free. You will be far away from any cancer risk.

Stay fit, stay happy!

Take care!

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