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 can increase the likelihood of developing throat cancer.


  • Tobacco use: The use of cigarettes, pipes and cigars all increase the likelihood of developing throat cancer.
  • Alcohol use: Excessive use of alcohol can increase your throat cancer risks.


  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) Infection: New research has found that HPV infection is responsible for rising rates of throat cancer, in particular oropharyngeal cancer. Read about the recent increase in HPV-related cancers.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): When acid leaks from the stomach into the esophagus, it causes acid reflux. Chronic acid reflux is called GERD, and increases throat cancer risk depending on the frequency and severity of the acid reflux.
  • Contracting epstein-barr virus (EBV): This common virus is transmitted via saliva. Contracting EBV increases the likelihood of developing throat cancer.


Last Revised: 10/12/2015

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.

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genomic tumor assessment

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