Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month

Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month

Head and neck cancer is a group of cancers that usually begin in the squamous cells that line the mucosal surfaces inside the mouth, nose, throat, and occasionally the salivary glands. These squamous cell cancers are often referred to as squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. 

Head and neck cancers account for nearly 4 percent of all cancers in the United States, the National Cancer Institute reported. Alcohol and tobacco use are major risk factors for head and neck cancers. Infection with cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases a person’s risk of certain head and neck cancers. 

Other risk factors for these cancers include:

  • Eating preserved or salted foods.    
  • Poor oral hygiene and missing teeth.    
  • Occupational exposure to wood dust, asbestos, and synthetic fibers.    
  • Radiation exposure.    
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection.    
  • Asian ancestry, particularly Chinese ancestry.

April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month.

Head and neck cancer is more common among men than women. These cancers are also diagnosed more often among people over age 50 than among younger people.

The symptoms of head and neck cancers may include a lump or a sore that does not heal, a sore throat that does not go away, difficulty in swallowing, and a change or hoarseness in the voice. 

What is the AACR Doing in This Area?

In 2019, The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) hosted the second AACR-AHNS Head and Neck Cancer Conference: Optimizing Survival and Quality of Life through Basic, Clinical, and Translational Research. Leaders in the field presented their latest research and provided critical updates on head and neck cancer biology, novel targets, biomarkers, immunology, immunotherapy, tumor microenvironment, response/resistance to therapy, and more. 

In 2019, the AACR offered the following awards in the field of head and neck cancer research: 

  • AACR Scholar-in-Training Awards: Hannan Qureshi, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Vaishnavi Sambandam, PhD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • AACR-SIC Scholar-in-Training Award: Francesca Citron, PhD, CRO-Aviano

The AACR’s mission is to prevent and cure all forms of cancer.