Everything About Throat Cancer: Know Symptoms and Treatments

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Throat cancer

Throat cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the cells lining the back of the mouth and throat. It is called "throat" cancer because these cancers start in the area where the voice box (larynx) is located.

Throat cancer is sometimes called head and neck cancer because these tumors often start in the head and neck region. The symptoms of throat cancer may not appear until later stages of the disease.

There are several types of throat cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, lymphoid leukoplakia, and basal cell carcinoma. These conditions can affect men and women, although they tend to occur more frequently in males. Generally, throat cancer refers to tumors that begin in the pharynx or larynx (voice box), although it can also include cancers that begin in the esophagus or thyroid.

When it comes to symptoms, they may vary depending on where the cancer begins. If it begins in the back of the mouth, symptoms may include pain, swelling, difficulty swallowing, bleeding, or a lump in the neck. On the other hand, if it begins in the tonsils, symptoms may include fever, sore throat, swollen glands, hoarseness, and weight loss. Below is a list of common throat cancer symptoms.

●   Breathing difficulty

●   Throat pain

●   Prolonged cough or aching throat

●   Coughing up blood

●   Difficulty swallowing

●   Lumps in the throat or neck

●   Loss of weight

●   Vocal changes, especially hoarseness or garbled speech

●   Swollen lymph node

●   Ringing or soreness in the ears

It is best to see a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. There are many types of throat cancers, and not all require surgery. However, some do need to undergo treatment. In addition, if you have had any recent head, neck, or throat injury, tell your doctor about it.

1. Laryngeal Cancer

Laryngeal cancer (or larynx) is a type of head and neck cancer that begins in the larynx and is ocated just below the voice box. The larynx is responsible for producing sound; without proper functioning, this would cause problems in speech production. Because of its location, the larynx is often referred to as the "voice box."

  1. Hypopharyngeal Cancer

Hypopharyngeal cancer is cancer that starts in the hypopharynx, which is the lower section of the throat. This area is responsible for swallowing, breathing, and talking.

  1. Oral Cavity Cancer

Oral cavity cancer occurs in the mouth, tongue, lips, gum line, jaw, palate, tonsils, and cheeks. The oral cavity is where we eat, drink, speak, and breathe.

  1. Nasopharyngeal Cancer

Nasopharyngeal cancer (also known as nasopharyngeal carcinoma) is a malignant tumor that develops in the lining of the nasal passages, pharynx, and sinuses.

  1. Oropharyngeal Cancer

Oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) is cancer that develops in the back of the throat, including the soft palate, tonsils, base of the tongue, uvula, and oropharynx.

  1. Esophageal Cancer

It is a cancer that forms in the esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

  1. Salivary Gland Cancer

Salivary gland cancers start in the salivary glands, which produce saliva. These glands are located throughout the body and help cleanse food from our mouths.

●   Consuming tobacco

●   Excessive alcoholic beverage use

●   Infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV)

●   Epstein-Barr infection (EBV)

●   The disease of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)

●   Bad diet

●   Family cancer history

●   Alcohol use exceeding one drink per day

●   Vitamin deficiency and inadequate nutrition

If your doctor discovers malignant cells in your throat, they will conduct more tests to determine the stage or extent of your cancer.

●   Stage 0: Only the tumor affects the top layer of cells in the affected neck area.

●   Stage 1: Only the area of the throat where the tumor first appeared is affected.

●   Stage 2: A nearby area has been invaded by the tumor.

●   Stage 3: The tumor has either spread to one lymph node or expanded into other neck structures.

●   Stage 4: Lymph nodes or distant organs have been affected by the tumor's spread.

  • The following tests may be recommended to identify pharyngeal or laryngeal cancer:

    1. A physician will inquire about the patient's symptoms and perform a physical examination. To examine the interior of the throat, they might use a laryngoscope, a tube with a camera on it.

    1. The doctor can confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of cancer's spread using an X-ray, CT, or MRI scan.

    1. A physician may advise a biopsy. A throat tissue sample is taken. The biopsy will confirm the cancer type and severity.

    1. Your doctor can see the larynx more clearly thanks to a laryngoscopy. They might place an endoscope in your neck for a sharper view or use unique mirrors to see these locations.

    1. The doctor can view the larynx, esophagus, mouth, nasal cavity, and possibly the lungs using a panendoscopy. If cancer is found in one place, it may also appear in other places vulnerable to the same risk factors, like smoking.

Treatment will depend on various factors, including:

●   Cancer's grade, stage, and location

●   The person's age and overall health

●   The treatment's accessibility and cost

●   Individual preferences

There are many treatment options for throat cancer, depending on the disease's location and stage. These treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies.

Common Treatments for Throat Cancer

Surgery is only recommended if the cancer hasn't spread outside the throat. Radiation is sometimes used before or after surgery. Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill fast-growing cancer cells and helps shrink tumors. Targeted therapies use drugs that focus on specific cancer genes and help stop them from working correctly.

●   Surgery: Surgery removes cancerous tumors and any nearby organs or structures. If the tumor cannot be removed surgically, it may be treated using radiation therapy or chemotherapy. There could even be no need for surgery. Instead, the doctor might opt for laser treatment.

●   Laser Surgery: Early-stage laryngeal tumors may be treated with endoscopic laser surgery. Because endoscopic surgery is performed through the mouth rather than a cut (incision) in the neck, it is less intrusive.

●   Radiation Therapy: This treatment option works best if the tumor is small (less than 1 centimeter) and located near the body's surface. Radiation therapy is sometimes used to treat head and neck cancers that have spread to lymph nodes.

●   Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment where drugs are injected or ingested into the bloodstream to treat cancer. Drugs work best if they target rapidly dividing cells, such as those in tumors. There are many different types of chemotherapy drugs; each works in different ways.

●   Targeted Therapy: These medications target particular cancer cells or cancer-promoting proteins. These targeted agents are often effective at treating certain types of cancer, but they do not work well in others.

●   Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy uses substances called immunosuppressants to help the immune system fight cancer. Immunosuppressants prevent the immune system from attacking cancer cells and interfere with how the immune system typically responds to infections.

Recovery time varies depending on the treatment method. After surgery, patients need to recover before undergoing radiation therapy. Patients who receive chemotherapy or targeted therapies may feel tired and weak. All treatments cause side effects, including nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue.

There is no known way to stop throat cancer at this time. However, you can take the following steps to lessen your risk of throat cancer:

●   Don't start smoking or stop smoking

Avoid smoking and chewing tobacco products. Tobacco has nicotine, which is highly addictive; it is also carcinogenic. Chewing tobacco is even worse than smoking cigarettes.

●   If you do consume alcohol, do it sparingly

Alcohol increases the risk of cancers in the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, and liver. If you choose to drink, use it sparingly. That means that healthy adults can have up to one drink per day.

●   Pick a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants that help keep your immune system strong. Antioxidants protect against free radical cell damage. Free radicals cause inflammation and may contribute to certain types of cancers.

●   Protect yourself from HPV

HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, is suspected to be the root cause of several throat malignancies. Limiting the number of people you have intercourse with and using a condom each time can lower your risk of contracting HPV. The HPV vaccine, which may lower the risk of throat cancer and other HPV-related cancers, is something you should discuss with your doctor.

A throat cancer diagnosis usually occurs after a patient complains of any above symptoms. But we must remember that prevention is always better than cure. Hence, it is always wise to visit your dentist and doctor regularly.

Your doctor will help you find if there are any concerning changes in your mouth or throat. And, if you feel some of the symptoms listed above, Call your doctor immediately. Don't wait and report these symptoms to your doctor immediately.

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Throat cancer