Most Throat Cancers are squamous cell carcinomas that start in the lining tissues of the Throat. Cancers can occur in any part of the Throat, including the nasopharynx, the area behind the nasal cavity; the oropharynx, the area behind the mouth; and the hypopharynx, where the throat branches into the trachea and esophagus.
Causes of Throat Cancer
People who smoke or use tobacco are at risk of developing Throat Cancer. Excessive alcohol use also increases risk. Smoking and drinking alcohol combined lead to an increased risk for Throat Cancers. Most cancers of the throat develop in adults older than 50. Men are 10 times more likely than women to develop throat cancers.
The most common symptoms of throat cancer are:
- Abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness that does not get better in 1 – 2 weeks
- Neck pain
- Sore throat that does not get better in 1 – 2 weeks, even with antibiotics
- Swelling or lumps in the neck
- Unintentional weight loss
Exams and Tests of Throat Cancer
The doctor will perform a physical exam. This may show a lump on the outside of the neck. If your doctor believes you may have Throat Cancer, he will order a series of tests. A laryngoscopy will be conducted. A laryngoscopy is an examination by use of a tube with a small lighted camera. A cranial CT scan and/or cranial MRI may also be conducted. These tests will help determine if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck. Tests may include:
- Biopsy of suspected tumor
- Chest x-ray
- CT scan of chest
- CT scan of head and neck
Treatment is aimed at destruction of the cancer cells and prevention of spread of the cancer to other parts of the body. Some common treatment options are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. If the tumor that contains the cancer cells is small, either surgery or radiation therapy alone can be used to eliminate the tumor. If the tumor is not small, or has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, a more aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy is often needed. In some cases, surgery is needed to remove the tumor and vocal cord is necessary. If the vocal cords are removed, artificial vocal cords may be implanted into the throat.
Complications of Throat Cancer
Some common complications of throat cancer are:
- Airway obstruction
- Loss of voice and speaking ability
- Disfigurement of the neck or face
- Hardening of the skin of the neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Spread of the cancer to other body areas
Risk Factors of Throat Cancer
The following factors increase the risk of throat cancer:
- Asbestos exposure
- Excessive alcohol use
- EBV (Epstein Barr virus), associated with nasopharyngeal cancer
- HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually transmitted virus
- Lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet
- Poor dental hygiene
- Tobacco use.
Survival Rate from Throat Cancer
Throat cancer survival rate may differ depending on the stages. Under this cancer, four stages can be classified. Among the most critical stage is the stage 4. Stage 4 Throat Cancer Survival Rate is around 30 percent. This is the lowest percentage of survival rate of Throat Cancer. This stage is widely affecting the lips, the mouth and the lymph nodes. In contrast, stage 3 Throat Cancer Survival Rate levels up to 50 to 60 percent. If stages 3 and 4 are low in survival rates, stages 1 and 2 have higher percentages. This implies that you can either have higher or lower survival rate depending on the stage of your cancer. Undergoing Chemotherapy and other treatments can prolong your life years.
- Green tea may lower the risk of colon, stomach and throat cancers in women (dailymail.co.uk)
- Oral Cancer Information (cancercenter.com)