What Are the Basics of Throat Cancer?




What is throat cancer?

Throat cancer occurs when malignant tumors develop in the throat, voice box or tonsils. It is often classified into two types. If the tumor developed in the throat (pharynx), it called pharyngeal cancer. If the tumor developed in the voice box (larynx), it called laryngeal cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms of throat cancer?

The common signs and symptoms of throat cancer include:

  • A sore throat.
  • A cough.
  • Ear pain.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Weight loss.
  • A lump or sore that doesn’t heal.

You need to see your doctor if above symptoms have persisted for a long time.

What causes throat cancer?

In general, throat cancer caused by genetic mutations of the cells in the throat. The cause of the mutations is still unknown at present, but doctors have found some factors that may increase the risk of getting throat cancer. These factors include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Excessive drinking.
  • Not eat enough fruits and vegetables.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

How to diagnose throat cancer?

  • Endoscopy or laryngoscopy.
    Your doctor may put an endoscope into your throat and take a close look at your throat. Or your doctor may put a laryngoscope into your voice box to examine your vocal cords.
  • A tissue sample.
    If your doctor finds any abnormalities through an endoscopy or laryngoscopy, he may take a tissue sample of the abnormal part for further test.
  • Imaging tests.
    In order to determine the extent of throat cancer beyond the surface, your doctor may ask you to do some imaging tests, including X-ray, computerized tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

What is the treatment for throat cancer?

Generally, treatment varies from person to person, and it must be chosen depends on the location of tumors, stage of cancer and your healthy condition. Here are some treatment options that you can choose from:

  • Radiation therapy
    Radiation therapy refers to kill cancer cells by high-energy beams. And the therapy can be done through outside machines and inside radioactive devices.
  • Surgery
    According to the location of tumors and stage of cancer, surgery options include:
    Surgery for early-stage throat cancer, pass surgical tools or a laser through a scope to scrape off, cut out, or vaporize superficial cancers.
    Pharyngectomy, remove part of the throat.
    Laryngectom, remove all or part of the voice box.
    Neck dissection, remove cancerous lymph nodes.
  • Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy refers to kill cancer cells by using medications.
  • Targeted drug therapy
    Targeted drug therapy uses targeted drugs, such as cetuximab (Erbitux), to restrict the growth of cancer cells.

Please consult a medical professional if you want to know more about throat cancer.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.