Study finds lack of knowledge about head and neck cancers

By WEEK Producer

June 9, 2014 Updated Jun 9, 2014 at 6:20 PM CDT

A new study finds a majority of people are unaware of what causes head and neck cancers and how potentially preventable they are.

Yale University researchers polled more than 2,000 people.

They found 66 percent of them were "not very" or "not at all" knowledgeable about head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the United States.

It is a potentially preventable disease with about 75% of cases caused by tobacco use.

"What was somewhat concerning is that despite our awareness of tobacco and the use of tobacco and cancer that people weren't more aware that tobacco use, either smokeless tobacco
or smoking was a significant cause of head and neck cancer,” said Dr. Brian Burkey of the Cleveland Clinic.

In recent years, human papillomavirus--or HPV--was established as a risk factor, too.

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