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January 18, 1971

Etiological Aspects of Squamous Cancers of the Head and Neck

JAMA. 1971;215(3):452-453. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180160052013

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Malignant tumors of the buccal cavity, pharynx, and larynx contributed to 4.5% of the deaths among males and 1.4% of the deaths among females from cancer in the United States in 1967. In this review, we are limiting the discussion to squamous cell cancers of these sites because, except for the vocal cord and lip, the epidemiological background of this group of cancers is similar.

Incidence.—  Unlike lung cancer, the incidence rate of squamous cell cancer of the head and neck region has been comparatively stable in recent years. The reason for the difference in the incidence of these two types of cancer could be that patients with lung cancer are mainly cigarette smokers while squamous cell cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and extrinsic larynx are about as commonly related to cigar and pipe smoking as to cigarette smoking.3,4During the last 30 to 40 years, there appears to