The exact causes of head and neck cancer aren’t fully understood. We know that certain things called risk factors can increase a person’s chances of developing it. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean you will definitely get head and neck cancer. Equally, if you don’t have any risk factors, it doesn’t mean you won’t get it.
The main risk factors for head and neck cancer are tobacco and alcohol. It is thought that about 3 out of 4 head and neck cancers (75%) are linked to tobacco or alcohol use.