Sarcoma of the Head and Neck Risks and Prevention

There are several risk factors that have been shown to increase the chances of developing sarcoma of the head and neck, including exposure to certain chemicals, genetic mutations and certain inherited genetic diseases.

Chemicals That Increase the Risk of Developing Sarcoma of the Head and Neck

Exposure to chemicals that may increase the risk of developing sarcoma of the head and neck include:

  • Vinyl chloride (a chemical used in making plastics)
  • Herbicides that contain phenoxyacetic acid
  • Dioxin

Genetic Factors That Increase the Risk of Developing Sarcoma of the Head and Neck

Genetic mutations (changes that occur in the DNA) and certain inherited genetic diseases that may increase the chance of developing sarcomas of the head and neck include:

  • Those with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which is associated with alterations in the p53 gene.
  • Those with von Recklinghausen's disease, also called neurofibromatosis, and associated with alterations in the NF1 gene.
  • Those with Paget's disease, a non-cancerous condition characterized by abnormal development of new bone cells.
  • Those with hereditary retinoblastoma, a rare cancer of the eye that typically develops in childhood.

Penn’s Sarcoma Risk Assessment Program

Penn’s Sarcoma Risk Assessment Program offers those with a genetic risk of developing sarcoma education about the benefits limitations, and potential drawbacks of genetic testing. Sarcomas of the head and neck are very rare and require highly specialized knowledge and expertise to diagnose and treat. Our Sarcoma Risk Assessment Program evaluates an individual’s risk and offers continued monitoring for early detection and personal risk reduction.

Penn’s Sarcoma Risk Assessment Program:

  • Helps individuals understand what is known about risk factors for sarcoma.
  • Reviews an individual’s family history, medical history and lifestyle risk factors.
  • Provides genetic counseling.
  • Provide information for those who have been diagnosed with cancer and are interested in learning about the role of genetics in their diagnoses.
  • Answers questions and offers guidance regarding your personal cancer related concerns.
  • Evaluate your eligibility to participate in research studies and clinical trials.
  • Creates a plan for continuous monitoring for early detection and personal sarcoma risk reduction.
  • Provides education and access to resources and support programs for those at high risk for developing sarcoma.