Cancer of the throat, also known as the pharynx—the hollow tube that connects the back of the nose to the top of the windpipe and the esophagus—is a leading cause of death worldwide. Furthermore, without prompt diagnosis and treatment, throat cancer has a low survival rate.
Throat cancer can take many forms, and the following article will discuss some of them and their symptoms.
Diseases of the Throat
Cancer of the throat is classified as either pharyngeal or laryngeal, depending on the location of the malignant tumor. What follows is a detailed examination of each category.
Papilloma of the Larynx
The nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx are all potential sites for the development of pharyngeal cancer. Three distinct subtypes of pharyngeal carcinoma have been identified:
- Carcinoma of the nasopharynx: Nasopharynx cancer begins at the roof of the mouth and the upper part of the throat—just behind the nose.
- Oropharyngeal cancer: This strikes the midsection of the throat, including the tonsils, the tonsillar crypts, and the floor of the mouth.
- Invasive adenocarcinoma of the hypopharynx: Hypopharyngeal cancer, which develops in the lower region of the throat, is the least prevalent kind of pharyngeal cancer.
Laryngeal cancer affects the larynx, also known as the voice box, in the lower region of the throat. There are three distinct forms of laryngeal cancer:
- Supraglottic cancer: Supraglottic cancer affects the area above the vocal cords
- Glottic cancer: Glottic cancer affects the vocal cords themselves
- Subglottic cancer: Subglottic cancer affects the area below the vocal cords
Typical Signs of Throat Cancer
Throat cancer symptoms vary with the size, nature, and location of the tumor. Yet, the following are some of the most typical warning signs of throat cancer:
- Persistent throat pain
- Having trouble swallowing or feeling like food is stuck in your throat
- Voice modulation or hoarseness
- Lumpy or swollen neck
- Sore ears
- Lost weight for no apparent reason
- Spitting blood
If you suffer from any of these symptoms for an extended period of time, it’s crucial to contact a doctor because they can be caused by other medical disorders as well.
Causes of Throat Cancer
A higher risk of developing throat cancer is associated with several factors:
- Smoking: The risk of developing throat cancer is raised by the regular use of tobacco products—whether smoked or not.
- Heavy drinking: The chance of acquiring throat cancer is raised when heavy alcohol use is coupled with tobacco smoking.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): Oropharyngeal cancer is more likely to develop in those who have had HPV, a sexually transmitted virus.
- A poor diet: A lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet is linked to an increased risk of throat cancer.
- Age: The risk of developing throat cancer increases with age, especially after the age of 50.
Therapy for Cancer of the Throat
Treatment options for throat cancer are determined by factors such as the type, stage, and location of the disease.
Some of the most common treatments for throat cancer include:
- Surgery: Surgery is often used to remove the cancerous growth and any affected lymph nodes.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy, which employs high-energy rays to kill cancer cells, is frequently used in conjunction with surgery.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy, which employs drugs to kill cancer cells, is frequently used in conjunction with radiation therapy.
- Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapy is a form of treatment in which drugs are used to target specific molecules or pathways involved in cancer cell growth.
- Immunotherapy: Radiation therapy, which employs high-energy rays to kill cancer cells, is frequently used in conjunction with surgery.