Throat Cancer

What is Throat Cancer?

There are two categories of throat cancer. Pharyngeal throat cancer forms in the hollow tube that resides behind your nose and runs to the top of your windpipe, also called the pharynx.

The other kind of throat cancer is in the voice box and or the larynx and is called laryngeal cancer.  Throat cancer is still fairly uncommon compared to other types of cancers.  Pharyngeal cancer only occurs in 1.1 percent of adults while laryngeal cancer occurs only in 0.4 percent.

What are the Symptoms of Throat Cancer?

Detecting throat cancer can be difficult in the early stages. Some of the most common symptoms include difficulty swallowing and a sore throat.  You may feel like you constantly need to clear your throat or have a persistent cough that includes coughing up blood.

There may be a change in your voice and you may experience wheezing.  Swollen lymph nodes, a hoarse voice, and even ear pain can also be part of the symptoms.

Causes of Throat Cancer

There are several causes of throat cancer and each is associated with the location within the throat. The majority of cases are to do with chosen lifestyles, while some involve genetics or ancestry.

A diet lacking in necessary nutrients from natural foods like fruit, vegetables and animal protein weakens the immune system. Without these daily intakes, the body can’t operate properly, contributing to throat cancers.

Failing to take care of your mouth, teeth and gums is part of good oral health. It’s the perfect breeding ground for abnormal bacteria and viruses. Some types of oral bacteria disrupt the body’s defense, allowing the development of squamous cell carcinoma – a scale-like growth in the throat. As a sexually transmitted virus, human papillomavirus is increasing the incidence of throat cancer.

Work environments with exposure to asbestos generate throat cancer cells. Whether you inhale or swallow the fibers or dust particles, the throat is infected.

Daily living habits involving smoking or chewing of tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption increase the rate of throat cancers. These harmful chemicals are the leading causes of throat cancer.

How is Throat Cancer Treated?

Treatment for throat cancer will be recommended by your doctor and is dependent on the stage of cancer and other factors.  There are several options for treatment.

For small throat tumors, your doctor may recommend surgical removal.  Surgery is done at a hospital under sedation.

If tumors are large or if they have spread to other tissues or organs like the larynx, chemotherapy may be recommended.  Chemotherapy will kill the existing cancer and can slow the growth of malignant cells to other parts of the body.

Finally, radiation therapy may be recommended after a tumor or tumors have been removed.  High energy rays help to destroy the cancer cells and target any cells that have been left behind after the surgery.

Prevention of throat cancers

Although cancer can be fatal, early detection and prevention helps to inhibit dangerous cancer growth. Learning more about your family’s medical history can prevent and cure today’s condition. If you are of Asian descent or have exposure to Epstein-Barr virus, your doctor needs to know.

Moderation isn’t easy, talk with your doctor; there are treatments, therapies and support groups working through the difficulties of changing bad habits into good ones.

Living healthy and surviving throat cancer is possible, start with listening to your body for signals and early alerts. Look for signs like a cough or a sore throat that lingers for weeks or adults experiencing voice changes or hoarseness – these are hints to check in with your doctor.