What Is Throat Cancer?
Pharynx is basically the throat which is a tube that extends from nose and goes till the end of neck. Larynx, or the voice box, is located just below the throat and tonsils are located at the back of the throat. Cancerous tumors can develop in any of these areas and cartilage is also often affected. Cartilage acts as a lid for the windpipe. Throat cancer is quite common since it generally develops due to addictive activities like smoking and alcohol. Early diagnosis and proper treatment is very necessary or else the condition may get worse.
What Are The Symptoms Of Throat Cancer?
The symptoms are difficult to recognize during early stages but the following are likely to show up:
- Ear pain.
- Swallowing difficulty.
- Continuous cough.
- Changing voice.
- Sore throat.
- Weight loss.
- Lymph nodes in the neck swells.
A combination of these symptoms could indicate throat cancer. Therefore, medical checkup is immediately required to confirm the condition and begin treatment as soon as possible.
What Causes Throat Cancer?
According to researchers and experts, genetic mutations result in abnormal cells to grow uncontrollably and gradually let healthy cells die. When the normal cycle of healthy cells gets disrupted, tumors are developed. However, no biologist or medicine expert has yet been able to evaluate what actually causes this mutation. Whatever the cause is, throat cancer can be of several types depending on the mutation. These may include:
- Glottic cancer in vocal cords.
- Subglottic cancer below the vocal cords.
- Nasopharyngeal cancer behind the nose.
- Supraglottic cancer affecting epiglottis.
- Hypopharyngeal cancer above the windpipe and esophagus.
- Oropharyngeal cancer behind the mouth that includes tonsils.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Throat Cancer?
The following factors can increase the risk of having throat cancer:
- Human papillomavirus or HPV.
- Chewing tobacco and smoking.
- Insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables.
How Is Throat Cancer Diagnosed?
Diagnosing throat cancer can involve one or more of the following:
- Sending a tissue to laboratory for testing i.e. biopsy.
- Use of endoscope to closely observe the throat.
- Throat x-ray.
- Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI.
- Computerized tomography or CT scan.
- Positron emission tomography or PET.
Once throat cancer is diagnosed, it is necessary to know its stage. In other words, stage I indicates a minor tumor while stage IV indicates the most advanced tumor. Treatment is then done accordingly.
How Is Throat Cancer Treated?
An appropriate treatment method could only be suggested after determining the stage of cancer and the area affected. The following are generally used to treat throat cancer:
- Chemotherapy that involves killing cancer cells using chemicals.
- Surgeries for an early stage cancer or removal of voice box and throat completely or partially.
- Surgery to remove lymph nodes having cancer i.e. neck dissection.
- Targeted drug therapy.
- Rehabilitation to improve the effects of surgeries or other treatments.
How Can We Prevent Throat Cancer?
Although throat cancer cannot be prevented in any way, the following can be helpful in reducing the risk:
- Minimizing consumption of alcohol if cannot quit.
- Getting rid of smoking or minimizing it.
- Avoiding HPV.
- Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.
By : Natural Health News