Can laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers be prevented?
Not all laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers can be prevented, but the risk of developing these cancers can be greatly reduced by avoiding certain risk factors such as smoking and alcohol use.
Tobacco use is the most important cause of these cancers. Avoiding exposure to tobacco (by not smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke) lowers the risk of these cancers. Heavy alcohol use is a risk factor on its own. It also greatly increases the cancer-causing effect of tobacco smoke, so it is especially important to avoid the combination of drinking and smoking.
For people who work with chemicals linked to these cancers, having plenty of workplace ventilation and using industrial respirators are important protective measures.
Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies have been linked to laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers. Eating a balanced, healthy diet may help lower your risk of these cancers (and many others). The American Cancer Society recommends eating a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods. This includes eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits every day. Choosing whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals instead of refined grains, and eating fish, poultry, or beans instead of processed meat and red meat may also help lower your risk of cancer. In general, eating a healthy diet is much better than adding vitamin supplements to an otherwise unhealthy diet.
Doctors are now studying whether certain drugs or vitamins might help prevent these cancers, especially in people who are at high risk. So far, none have been successful enough to be recommended.
Last Medical Review: 12/14/2012
Last Revised: 01/18/2013