Risk Factors for Head and Neck Cancer
Factors known to contribute to the risk of developing head and neck cancers include smoking (both tobacco and marijuana) or chewing tobacco and frequent alcohol use. Leukoplakia (white spots or patches in the mouth) also may be considered a risk factor for head and neck cancer, as this condition becomes cancerous in approximately one-third of cases.
Pathology of Head and Neck Cancer
Most head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, tumors that develop in the tissue lining the hollow organs of the body. However, other tumor types also may be seen and include lymphoepithelioma, spindle cell carcinoma, verrucous cancer, undifferentiated carcinoma and cancers of the lymph nodes, called lymphoma (most often diffuse non-Hodgkins lymphoma).