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Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Throat cancer risk factors

As with many cancers, the risk of developing throat cancer increases with age, with most people being over the age of 65. Men are two to three times more likely than women to develop throat cancer in their lifetime.

Risk factors differ depending on where the cancer grows in the throat.

cancer risks

Throat cancer risk factors


  • Lack of fruits and vegetables: A diet low in fruits and vegetables may increase the likelihood of developing throat cancer.


  • Tobacco use: The use of cigarettes, pipes and/or cigars may increase the likelihood of developing throat cancer.
  • Alcohol use: Excessive use of alcohol may increase your throat cancer risk.


  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection: Research has found that HPV infection is responsible for rising rates of throat cancer, particularly among patients with oropharyngeal cancer. 
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): When acid moves from the stomach into the esophagus, acid reflux develops. Chronic acid reflux, or GERD, may increase throat cancer risk depending on its frequency and severity.
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV): This common virus is transmitted via saliva. Contracting EBV may increase the likelihood of developing throat cancer.


Last Revised: 01/08/2018

Understanding risk factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Advanced genomic testing

genomic tumor assessment

We use advanced genomic testing to examine a patient's tumor on a cellular level. This innovative tool can help us find what's driving the cancer's growth and offer patients more precise treatment.