Throat Cancer Causes Risk

Although some cases of throat cancer are mild and localized to a particular area of the throat, others are more complicated, affecting various areas of the mouth and throat. Similarly, just as cases of throat cancer vary from patient to patient, so too do the particular causes and risk factors that contribute to the development of this condition.

In general, cases of throat cancer revolve around tumor development in one of the three areas of the pharynx:

  • the hypopharynx: the lowest part of the pharynx that connects the larynx (voice box) and the esophagus
  • the nasopharynx (and the adenoids): the upper most part of the pharynx that is behind the nose and that includes the adenoids
  • the oropharynx: the middle part of the pharynx that includes the soft palate, the tonsils and the back of the tongue.

Where tumors and other cancerous cells start developing in the throat depends on your lifestyle, other conditions you may suffer from and your family medical history. As you start to develop throat cancer, you will begin having chronic problems talking, swallowing, hearing and/or smelling.

In this section, we will outline some of the main risk factors associated with the development of throat cancer. Our articles will layout the incidence of throat cancer among certain populations, as well as provide you with some tips on how to avoid putting yourself at a greater risk of developing throat cancer.

Throat Cancer and Smoking

Although doctors may not be able to definitively identify the causes of throat cancer in some cases, without a doubt, the medical community agrees that smoking and using chewing tobacco are the leading causes of throat cancer. In fact, about 90 percent of all cases of throat cancers have been linked to the use of tobacco in some form.

Similarly, about 75 percent of the cases of throat cancer have been linked to excessive consumption of alcohol. Consequently, smokers who also drink alcohol regularly are at an even higher risk of developing throat cancer.

Because so many people are looking to quit smoking to improve their health, save money and prevent their children from smoking, there are a number of “stop smoking” resources you can use to help you in your fight. Some tips for helping you quit include:

  • avoiding triggers, including alcohol (if you smoke when you drink), particularly stressful situations, etc.
  • chewing nicotine gum or wearing a nicotine patch to help wean your body off of its nicotine addition
  • getting acupuncture
  • taking up a more involved exercise routine to help get out your aggression and anxiety.

Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of throat cancer, as smoking and throat cancer are clearly linked.

GERD and Throat Cancer

GERD refers to a condition in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus, causing it to become irritated and inflamed. While GERD can cause mild to moderate scarring of the esophagus as well as the larynx, in more serious, chronic cases of GERD, a person is at a higher risk of developing throat cancer.

If a GERD patient starts to develop pre-cancerous or cancerous cells in his throat due to prolonged exposure to stomach acid, his condition is known as Barrett’s esophagus.

It is important to understand the link between GERD and throat cancer.


MedicineNet, Inc. (June 4, 2003) Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Retrieved August 23, 2007, from the MedicineNet Web site: