A risk factor is a characteristic, behavior, or condition that raises the possibility of developing a disease. Here are the main risk factors for pharyngeal cancer:
People who smoke cigarettes or use smokeless tobacco products have an increased risk for pharyngeal cancer.
Frequent or heavy alcohol consumption puts you at risk for pharyngeal cancer. Use of both alcohol and tobacco puts you at even higher risk.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that could put you at risk for head and neck cancer, particularly cancer of the oropharynx.
Workers in certain industries such as wood, metal, leather, textile, and petroleum workers who are exposed to certain chemicals, dust, or fumes in the workplace may be at an increased risk for pharyngeal cancer.
Men are more likely to develop pharyngeal cancer than women.
The risk for pharyngeal cancer increases with age. Most patients are over the age of 55 at diagnosis.
Some studies have shown that a poor diet low in fruits and vegetables can increase the risk of developing cancer of the oropharynx.
Those with Chinese or southeast Asian ancestry may have an increased risk for cancer of the nasopharynx. Nasopharyngeal cancer is most common in southeast Asia.
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
EBV is a lifelong infection that causes mononucleosis (mono) and then remains dormant in the cells of your throat and immune system. Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus has been linked with an increased risk of nasopharyngeal cancer.
Plummer-Vinson syndrome is a rare disease that can occur in people with chronic iron deficiency. Plummer-vinson syndrome causes abnormal growths (esophageal webs) to form on the inner lining of the esophagus, making it difficult to swallow. This disease can increase the risk of hypopharyngeal cancer.