Risk factors and causes of laryngeal cancer

The exact cause of laryngeal cancer is not known, but certain risk factors can affect the chances of developing it. Having a risk factor for cancer doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get it. Some people with risk factors never develop cancer, and other people without any known risk factors can still develop it.

Around 2,360 people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer of the larynx each year. This type of cancer is rare in people under 40. It’s more common in people in their 60s and 70s. It is five times more common in men than in women. The main risk factors are smoking tobacco and, to a lesser extent, drinking alcohol. There may be other factors that increase the risk of developing laryngeal cancer, but more research is needed.

Smoking

The longer a person smokes for and the more they smoke, the greater the risk of developing laryngeal cancer.

Alcohol

Drinking a lot of alcohol, especially spirits, over a long period of time increases a person’s risk of getting laryngeal cancer.

The risk is much higher for people who are both smokers and heavy drinkers.

As with other cancers, cancer of the larynx is not infectious and cannot be passed on to other people.

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