The INHANCE consortium: toward a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms of head and neck cancer

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The International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology (INHANCE) consortium is a collaboration of research groups leading large epidemiology studies to improve the understanding of the causes and mechanisms of head and neck cancer. The consortium includes investigators of 35 studies who have pooled their data on 25 500 patients with head and neck cancer (i.e., cancers of the oral cavity, oropharynx, hypopharynx, and larynx) and 37 100 controls. The INHANCE analyses have confirmed that tobacco use and alcohol intake are key risk factors of these diseases and have provided precise estimates of risk and dose response, the benefit of quitting, and the hazard of smoking even a few cigarettes per day. Other risk factors include short height, lean body mass, low education and income, and a family history of head and neck cancer. Risk factors are generally similar for oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx, although the magnitude of risk may vary. Some major strengths of pooling data across studies include more precise estimates of risk and the ability to control for potentially confounding factors and to examine factors that may interact with each other. The INHANCE consortium provides evidence of the scientific productivity and discoveries that can be obtained from data pooling projects.

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