Head and neck cancer: causes, prevention and treatment

Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2013 Mar-Apr;79(2):239-47. doi: 10.5935/1808-8694.20130041.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Although head and neck carcinoma ranks fifth among cancer types, patient survival rates have not changed significantly over the past years.

Objective: To determine the risk factors, causes, therapies, and prevention measures for head and neck cancer.

Method: Risk factors, causes, therapies, and preventive measures for this disease were searched on databases PUBMED, MEDLINE, and SCIELO.

Results: Alcohol and tobacco are still atop risk factors. Other factors may influence the development of head and neck carcinoma. Surgery is the main treatment option, and the addition of radiotherapy following surgery is frequent for patients in the early stages of the disease. Other therapies target specific genetic molecular components connected to tumor development. Disease preventive measures include smoking cessation, limiting alcohol intake, preventing exposure to tobacco smoke and environmental carcinogenic agents, early detection of infection by HPV, maintaining oral health, good eating habits, and managing stress.

Conclusion: Additional research is needed for a more thorough understanding of the development of head and neck carcinomas and to shed light on new ways to improve therapeutic approaches and interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors