Neck Cancer Causes
Specific neck cancer causes are still being researched. Although studies have associated certain genetic syndromes and lifestyle factors with a higher risk of head and neck cancer, researchers are still working to determine what prompts healthy cells to become cancerous.
On a basic level, researchers understand that DNA damage can prevent a healthy cell from a natural growth pattern. If a mutated cell is not able to control its growth, it can multiply at a rapid pace, producing more abnormal cells that can eventually accumulate into a tumor. This tumor can spread into lymph nodes or other nearby tissues. If cancerous cells travel throughout the lymphatic system to other parts of the body, they can form additional tumors in other tissues or organs. If this occurs, it is know as metastatic neck cancer.
The genetic mutations that lead to neck cancer can be triggered by several different things. Potential causes of neck cancer include:
- Tobacco use
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies
- Infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV) or the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Previous radiation therapy for a past head or neck cancer
- Genetic mutations associated with Fanconi anemia and dyskeratosis congenita
Tampa General Hospital has a team of experienced oncologists who specialize in head and neck cancers. For a physician referral, please use our PhysicianFinder tool or call (813) 844-2200.