Individuals with certain risk factors for hypopharyngeal cancer may have a greater chance of developing the disease. These risk factors include:
Tobacco and alcohol use
Alcohol and cigarettes contain toxic chemicals that increase the risk of individuals developing different types of hypopharyngeal cancer. Individuals are at a much higher risk of developing the disease if they regularly drink and smoke or engage in a combination of both. Commonly older men with a history of tobacco and alcohol use make up a large portion of hypopharyngeal cancer sufferers. Avoiding the use of tobacco is the most important step in lowering the risk of hypopharyngeal cancers.
Poor nutrition can exacerbate hypopharyngeal cancer due to difficulty swallowing or aspiration caused by the cancer. Individuals with iron and vitamin C deficiencies are also more susceptible to developing the disease.
Those with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) may be at a higher risk of developing hypopharyngeal cancer.
Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
Although those with hypopharyngeal cancer will often be tested for HPV as a possible factor in developing the disease, there is not a strong connection between the two (as is the case with oropharyngeal (throat) cancers).
Plummer Vinson syndrome (PVS)
Those with PVS have difficulty swallowing and often develop iron-deficiency anemia, glossitis, cheilosis and esophageal webs. Those with this syndrome have a high risk of developing different types of throat cancers, including hypopharyngeal cancer.
Studies show that men are four times more likely to develop hypopharyngeal cancer than women. This may be due to the fact that in the past, men engaged in heavier smoking and drinking than women.
Research has found that laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers are more common among African Americans and Caucasians.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
GERD is characterized by acid from the stomach that backs up into the espophagus. GERD may be linked to an increased risk of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers.
Those with anemia often experience blood problems at an early age. Individuals with anemia have a very high risk of hypopharyngeal, laryngeal and oropharyngeal cancers.
Biological factors and genetic deficiencies
Those with certain genetic diseases, deficiencies or syndromes may have a higher risk of developing hypopharyngeal cancer.