Different factors are responsible for different types of head and neck cancers. There is no clear-cut preventive measure to curb head and neck cancers. Still, a person can lower their risk of developing head and neck cancers by following a healthy lifestyle and avoiding risky behaviors. They should also consult the healthcare team to know more about their risk of developing cancer 1.Small measures such as quitting tobacco and drinking alcohol, protecting the body from an over-exposure to sunlight and heat, can help to reduce the risk of certain types of head and neck cancers.
People with HPV infection have an increased risk of developing head and neck cancers. Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential in preventing most head and neck cancers. Caring for their dentures, eating a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can also help in leading a life of lowered risk. Being physically active and fit can help people lead a healthy, cancer-free lifestyle. While regular self-examinations and screenings can help people to detect cancers early.
Prevention of Head and Neck Cancer
A person can lower their risk of developing head and neck cancers by following a healthy lifestyle and keeping away risky behaviors.
- Over-exposure to sunlight and heat can cause certain types of head and neck cancers. Use sunscreens and lip balms with adequate SPF or sun protection factor while stepping out in the sun.
- People should quit using tobacco and drinking alcohol. Those indulging in drinking, smoking, and using drugs are at a higher risk of developing head and neck cancers. If you are a person who smokes, drinks, or uses drugs, you can seek medical assistance to practice abstinence from these. Quitting such unhealthy practices helps to keep almost all grave diseases at bay.
- People with HPV infection have an increased risk of developing head and neck cancers. Hence reducing the risk of HPV infection is vital in preventing any form of head and neck cancer. The HPV vaccine Gardasil is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent specific head and neck cancers. Since HPV could be transmitted sexually, reducing the number of sexual partners can decrease the risk of an HPV infection. People can also practice safe sex by using adequate measures like condoms, even though the use of condoms cannot fully guarantee any protection from HPV.
- Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential in preventing most head and neck cancers. People should properly care for their dentures. A poorly fitted denture can trap carcinogenic substances from alcohol, and tobacco and can cause harm. People who wear dentures should visit their dentists at least once a year and get a proper evaluation. Make sure that your dentures are well fitted. Also, dentures should be removed every night and cleaned and properly dried before the subsequent use.
Some general precautions can be taken to prevent head and neck cancers or any other disease conditions in general 2. Listed below are some cancer or tumor preventive measures or tips one can follow to lead a cancer-free, healthy lifestyle 3.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet:
Eating a balanced diet is essential in maintaining our overall well-being. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Avoid refined, oily, and charred foods. Including whole grains, pulses and nuts in your diet can be a healthy option. Limit the intake of processed meat.
- Controlling body weight:
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential in leading a disease-free life. Eat light as per your body requirement, rather than indulging in eating large amounts of junk. Obesity stands as the foremost reason for most kinds of diseases. Controlling body weight can increase a person’s life efficiency.
- Regular Exercise:
Being physically active and fit can help people lead a healthy, cancer-free lifestyle. Exercising regularly can help control body weight and improve the quality of life. People can practice simple exercises, yoga, and meditation daily to decrease their risk of cancer and many other lifestyle diseases.
- Don’t use tobacco and limit the intake of alcohol:
Tobacco is considered a primary cause of increasing the risk of most forms of cancer. Avoiding tobacco use can be a significant step in preventing cancer and other major diseases. If you find it challenging to quit smoking or any form of tobacco use, you can consult a qualified medical professional who can suggest ways to quit the use and control the urge.
Limit the intake of alcohol or altogether quit the habit of drinking. Drinking can cause adverse effects on health. So, controlling the habit is essential to leading a healthy, productive life.
Regular medical check-ups and care
Regular self-examinations and screenings can help people to detect cancers early. People need to carry out a complete body check-up at least twice a year. People should observe their bodies and closely look for changes, signs, or symptoms of any disease. If a person experiences any signs or symptoms, they should not hesitate to consult a doctor and get a proper diagnosis. People are encouraged to ask questions and clear their doubts regarding any medical condition or disease.
- 1.Hashim D, Genden E, Posner M, Hashibe M, Boffetta P. Head and neck cancer prevention: from primary prevention to impact of clinicians on reducing burden. Annals of Oncology. Published online May 2019:744-756. doi:10.1093/annonc/mdz084
- 2.Galbiatti ALS, Padovani-Junior JA, Maníglia JV, Rodrigues CDS, Pavarino ÉC, Goloni-Bertollo EM. Head and neck cancer: causes, prevention and treatment. Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology. Published online March 2013:239-247. doi:10.5935/1808-8694.20130041
- 3.Day TA, Chi A, Neville B, Hebert JR. Prevention of head and neck cancer. Curr Oncol Rep. Published online April 2005:145-153. doi:10.1007/s11912-005-0041-x