Whenever there is abnormal growth of cells in the pharynx or larynx, then it is termed as throat cancer, which can be malignant. The tumors are named according to the location they are developed in. For example, the tumor developed in larynx is called laryngeal cancer, while the one that occurs in pharynx is called pharyngeal cancer. Some other examples are nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, hypopharyngeal, glottic, supraglottic and subglottic cancer. The symptoms and signs will vary depending on the type of cancer developed. It is two times more common in men than women, and is generally seen in people aged above forty five years.
The individuals who smoke or use tobacco constantly are definitely at a higher risk of developing this dangerous cancer. Unrestricted use of alcohol may well account for throat cancer. The infection of human papilloma virus that is spread during unprotected sex, chewing of betel nuts, exposure to sun are some other factors to be blamed for this cancer.
Signs and Symptoms
Try to look out for different signs and symptoms that you may notice, in case there is onset of this dangerous disease. Make sure you consult your physician immediately if you notice a lump in the throat, find it difficult to swallow food for more than a week, persistent cough, sore throat, change in voice or hoarseness that lasts for more than six days, difficulty in breathing, purulent or bloody sputum, sensation of foreign body in throat, etc. These symptoms are really vague and are associated with other common illnesses and hence can be easily ignored. Therefore, keep a watchful eye and try to identify these symptoms.
A delay in the diagnosis of throat cancer can actually prove to be fatal at times. Therefore, it is vital that as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms, consult your doctor immediately, preferably an otolaryngologist or ENT specialist. An endoscopy, removal of sample tissue, X-ray, CT scan, PET, etc. may be suggested by the doctors.
The overall health of the patient, stage and type of cancer are the deciding factors in the treatment of throat cancer. The throat cancer in early stages can be treated with radiation therapy, or may be used in combination with surgery or chemotherapy. If the disease has advanced to a higher stage, radiation therapy helps in providing symptomatic relief. Targeted drug therapy, for example, Cetuximab may be used to treat this cancer. Further rehabilitation treatment may be required to cope with eating, swallowing, and speech difficulties.
The best way to prevent throat cancer is by quitting tobacco, limiting your alcohol intake, avoiding exposure to ultraviolet radiation, etc. Oral irritations can be avoided by using proper fitting dentures and ensuring that they are cleaned regularly. A regular dental check up is necessary to look out for abnormalities or precancerous lesions. A well balanced nutritious diet rich in vitamin A is highly recommended.
Now that you have an idea about throat cancer, its causes, symptoms, etc., make sure you take care to prevent its occurrence in your life, as well as the lives of your near and dear ones.