Causes of Hypopharyngeal Cancer

As with most cancers, doctors can’t tell you with certainty what causes hypopharyngeal cancer. It’s a combination of genetic factors and factors in your environment.

By far the most common factor contributing to hypopharyngeal cancer is using tobacco, particularly smoking it. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also contributes to the risk of developing cancer of the hypopharynx.

  • Tobacco:Smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes and using chewing tobacco greatly increase your chance of getting a hypopharynx cancer.
  • Alcohol:Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is also very strongly related to getting hypopharyngeal cancer. Moreover, if you both smoke and drink heavily, the risk more than doubles.

Other factors that can increase your chance of getting hypopharyngeal cancer include:

  • Exposure to radiation in the past:Being exposed to radiation as part of a natural disaster, treatment for another disease a long time ago or even through work can increase the chances of some hypopharynx cancers.
  • Plummer-Vinson Syndrome:This is a very rare disease seen in non-smoking women between 30 and 50 years old. It is called a syndrome because it includes a pattern of symptoms, including difficulty with swallowing, a web of tissue that can partially block off the hypopharynx and low iron counts leading to low blood counts, along with weight loss.

Other factors that can increase the risk of developing cancer of the hypopharynx include:

  • A history of drinking poisons such as lye
  • Certain viruses
  • Asbestos exposure
  • Genetic factors