Risk Factors/Causes

Risk Factors in North America

1) Tobacco & Alcohol
The most recognized and acknowledged is the use of tobacco (including smokeless) and alcohol.

2) Sexually Transmitted HPV-16 and 18
Exposure to the HPV-16 + 18 virus (human papilloma virus) is the fastest growing risk factor for oral cancer. This is the same virus that is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers in women. The virus presents a 5 fold increase in incidence under the age of 40, which means all patients over the age of 17 should be screened annually.

Why age 17? According to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in recommendation of the new HPV vaccine "Gardasil" for cervical cancer prevention... "We chose 11 and 12 years because most girls have not had sex at that age." She adds: "By 15 years of age, about 25 % of American young people have become sexually active. And by age 17, 50% have already done so."