Head and neck cancers are very preventable. Here are three important steps:
- Quit tobacco. Tobacco use is the most common cause of head and neck cancers. Eighty-five percent of these cancers are linked to tobacco use. To reduce your risk of head and neck cancer, quit using all forms of tobacco (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, snuff, and chewing tobacco).
- Cut back on drinking. Alcohol use has also been determined to contribute to head and neck cancer. Reducing your alcohol intake can reduce your risk of these cancers.
- Consider getting the HPV vaccine. Human papillomavirus can cause some types of head and neck cancers, particularly oropharyngeal cancer. Talk to your provider to see if you would benefit from the vaccine. It’s most effective in preventing HPV if given at a young age.
If you have already had cancer, cutting out tobacco and alcohol can reduce the risk of your cancer recurring. Seeing your physician at the first sign of symptoms can also prevent cancers from progressing.