Head and Neck Cancer Prevention

Some risk factors for head and neck cancer can be changed, while others cannot. Following are some preventative measures to help prevent head and neck cancer:

  • Don’t smoke: It’s important to understand cigarettes aren’t the only culprits. Head and neck cancer can be caused by the use of any tobacco products, including cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and snuff. Recent research also suggests marijuana use also increases a person’s risk for head and neck cancer.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: When combined with smoking, heavy drinking increases the risk of cancer of the head and neck that much more. Smoking and heavy drinking do their damage by first causing changes in cells that form the outer layer in the organs of the head and neck. These cells may become pre-cancerous, which in turn can become full blown cancer.
  • Consume a healthy diet: Foods rich in vitamin A and vitamin B have been found to be beneficial.
  • Use sunscreen regularly: It’s important to use an adequate sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen regularly, including lip balm
  • Reduce the risk of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: The risk of HPV can be reduced by limiting the number of sexual partners. Using a condom does not provide full protection from HPV during sex.
  • Practice good oral hygiene and proper care of dentures: Poorly-fitting dentures can trap tobacco and alcohol’s cancer-causing substances. Denture wearers should have their dentures evaluated by a dentist at least every five years to ensure a good fit. Dentures should be removed every night and cleaned and rinsed thoroughly every day.