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Curr Opin Oncol. 1992 Jun;4(3):471-7.

Recent advances in epidemiology of head and neck cancer.

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  • 1European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.


Cancer of the oral cavity is an important contributor to the overall international cancer burden, especially in the developing countries. Smoking cessation, moderation of alcohol consumption, and increased consumption of fruits, and probably vegetables, have been identified by epidemiologic studies as three actions that could lead to the prevention of approximately three fourths of cases in Western countries. Similar effects could be brought about in developing countries through cessation of cigarette smoking and, where appropriate, betel quid chewing and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. Since this disease is increasing in frequency in many countries, it is important to implement these health education messages. A similar situation holds true for larynx cancer. Clearly many head and neck cancers are preventable and it is worth repeating that prevention should become an epidemiologic priority. There are exciting prospects of effective chemoprevention opportunities in head and neck cancer, with a number of compounds having activity. Further developments in this important area are awaited.

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