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Head and neck cancer

Scientist Using Microscope
Petri Dish


The tonsils are glands at the back of the throat, which take part in the immune system’s first line of defence against foreign inhaled or ingested pathogens. Tonsil cancer makes up 23% of oropharyngeal (back of mouth and throat) malignancies. Cancer occurs when the normal mechanisms behind cellular death stop working properly, resulting in uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.

Risk factors for the development of tonsil cancer include; tobacco smoking, alcohol, poor oral hygiene and the presence of certain microbes. Over the past 40 years the number of cases of tonsil cancer has risen rapidly, and this has been linked to an increasing prevalence of tonsillar human papilloma virus (HPV) infections. We are currently investigating the salivary microbiome (the composition of microbial populations) of patients with tonsil squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is the most common form of tonsil cancer.

This could lead to a better diagnostic test for tonsil cancer.

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Professor Arvind Arya

Consultant Otolaryngologist, Head & neck/Thyroid surgeon


Miss Sarah Thomas

Doctoral student


Miss Tracy Knight

Doctoral student

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