Alcohol and tobacco consumption are well-recognized risk factors for head and neck cancer (HNC). Evidence suggests that genetic predisposition may also play a role. Only a few epidemiologic studies, however, have considered the relation between HNC risk and family history of HNC and other cancers. We pooled individual-level data across 12 case-control studies including 8,967 HNC cases and 13,627 controls. We obtained pooled odds ratios (OR) using fixed and random effect models and adjusting for potential confounding factors. All statistical tests were two-sided. A family history of HNC in first-degree relatives increased the risk of HNC OR = 1.7, 95% confidence interval, CI, 1.2-2.3). The risk was higher when the affected relative was a sibling (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.6-3.1) rather than a parent (OR = 1.5, 95% CI 1.1-1.8) and for more distal HNC anatomic sites (hypopharynx and larynx). The risk was also higher, or limited to, in subjects exposed to tobacco. The OR rose to 7.2 (95% CI 5.5-9.5) among subjects with family history, who were alcohol and tobacco users. A weak but significant association (OR = 1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.2) emerged for family history of other tobacco-related neoplasms, particularly with laryngeal cancer (OR = 1.3, 95% CI 1.1-1.5). No association was observed for family history of nontobacco-related neoplasms and the risk of HNC (OR = 1.0, 95% CI 0.9-1.1). Familial factors play a role in the etiology of HNC. In both subjects with and without family history of HNC, avoidance of tobacco and alcohol exposure may be the best way to avoid HNC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research