Though we as humankind haven’t had a breakthrough in completely treating every kind of cancer or a vaccine in protecting ourselves from it, if we are alert enough, there is every possibility of catching hold of it at an early stage so as to treat it well before it goes out of control. One such cancer type is throat cancer. As goes its name, it is the cancer of the throat and affects the pharynx as well as the larynx or voice box. While the pharynx is located above the esophagus and larynx and below the nasal cavity, the larynx is located in the front of the neck.
The risk factors associated with throat cancer include -
- A sexually transmitted virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Addictions like tobacco, gutkha, alcohol, and smoking
- A diet free from fruits and vegetables
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Genetics viz inherited defects in certain genes
- Asbestos exposure
- Dental hygiene issues
- Throat Cancer Stages
There are three different stages in throat cancer. If detected at an early stage throat cancer is pretty much treatable with surgery and radiation.
Symptoms of Throat Cancer
Symptoms of throat cancer include blood coughing, swelling in lymph nodes, trouble swallowing, and more. Other than that some of the potential symptoms of cancer include the following
- Cough that rarely goes away
- Constant Throat Clearance
- Unexplained Weight loss
- Sore Throat
- Ear pain
Stages of Throat Cancer
The levels of throat cancer are spread across four stages 0 to 3.
Stage 0 – This is the earliest stage of cancer wherein the tissue isn’t affected by any other areas except your throat.
Stage 1 – Cancer has not affected any other areas beyond the throat but the size of it is less than or equal to 7 cm.
Stage 2 – The size of the throat has crossed 7 cm but still hasn’t invaded other organs
Stage 3 – Cancer has spread up to nearby organs and tissues.
Stage 4 – Cancer has spread to distant organs as well as lymph nodes
Throat Cancer Diagnosis
For diagnosis, the doctor or oncologist may ask to do a biopsy or a fine needle aspiration. The biopsy recommended could be either a conventional biopsy or an endoscopic biopsy. The doctors would further recommend a few tests for determining the stage of your cancer. These include a CT scan, PET scan, or an MRI test.
Treatment of Throat Cancer
The treatment would be typically based on the stage of cancer. It could include removal of the tumor and radiation and chemotherapy later on. It is a prolonged process and not a matter of few days. Repeated tests would have to be carried out to determine how successful the surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy therapy have been. Based on the reports the trajectory of the further treatment would be derived.
Throat cancer complications after the surgery and treatment could include disfigurement of the neck and face primarily. This though can be fixed to a certain extent through surgery. The other issues that a patient may face during recovery include breathing and swallowing difficulty, trouble while speaking and skin hardening around the neck.
Cancer of any kind is a condition which if caught hold of early on can be treated and many times completely eradicated but this requires you to be alert and keep an eye on your health like a hawk. Regular health checkups are advisable for the same.
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