Throat cancer is a form that affects the throat, including the pharynx, larynx, and tonsils. The vocal cords, voice box, and swallowing tube are only a few examples of the throat’s supporting structures where it may develop. Squamous cell carcinoma is the most prevalent type of throat cancer, and it grows in the thin, flat cells that line the inside. Adenocarcinoma, lymphoma, and sarcoma are the other kinds of throat cancer.
Throat Cancer Symptoms
Depending on the location and stage, it can cause various symptoms. However, the following are some common symptoms:
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing or a feeling of something lodged in the throat
- Hoarseness or a change in voice
- Pain or ringing in the ears
- Neck swelling
- Coughing up blood
Throat Cancer Causes
The development of genetic mutations in the throat’s cells leads to throat cancer. These mutations make cells proliferate uncontrolled and live after healthy cells would typically expire die. As a result, a tumor may develop in your throat as a result of the accumulated cells. It is unclear what causes the mutation that leads to this. However, doctors have identified potential risk factors.
Throat cancer risk factors include:
- Tobacco Use: Tobacco use, such as smoking and chewing tobacco, increases the risk significantly.
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Drinking significant amounts of alcohol over time can irritate the throat and raise the risk.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection: Some HPV strains raise the risk.
- Age: People over 50 are more likely to develop it.
- Gender: Men risk developing it more than women.
- Exposure to Specific Irritants and Chemicals: Exposure to irritants and chemicals, such as asbestos, can raise the risk.
Throat Cancer Diagnosis
Diagnosis typically involves the following steps:
- Physical Examination: In the case of lumps or sores on the throat or neck, a doctor examines them.
- Medical History: The doctor asks about the patient’s medical background, symptoms, and variables that could increase their chance of developing throat cancer.
- Imaging Tests: The doctor may order a CT, MRI, or PET scan to get a clearer view of the throat and the surrounding tissues.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is the most conclusive technique for diagnosing throat cancer. The doctor performs a biopsy by removing a small piece of tissue from the patient’s throat and sending it to a laboratory for examination.
More tests may be performed to identify the cancer’s stage and whether it has spread to other body parts once a throat cancer diagnosis has been confirmed.
Throat Cancer Treatment
To determine the best course of treatment for throat cancer, doctors must consider the cancer’s location, its stage, and the patient’s overall health. The most popular methods of treatment include the following:
Surgery is one method that can be used to remove all or some of the afflicted tissue, depending on where the cancer is located and how advanced it is. A laryngectomy, for example, includes removing the voice box, whereas a laryngectomy entails removing a part of the throat. Surgery can also be performed to remove lymph nodes that contain cancer cells.
Radiation therapy employs high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. You can use it alone or in combination with other treatments. For example, the most common form of radiation therapy for throat cancer is external beam radiation therapy. However, brachytherapy, which involves putting radioactive material within the body, may be utilized in some instances.
Chemotherapy employs medications to kill cancer cells throughout the body. It may be used by itself or in conjunction with other treatments. Chemotherapy is frequently administered intravenously (through an IV) or as a pill.
This therapy employs medications that directly target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed. It is possible to use targeted therapy alone or in conjunction with other treatments.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that employs medications to assist the immune system in recognizing and attacking cancer cells. It is possible to use immunotherapy on its own or in conjunction with other treatments.
Palliative care focuses on reducing symptoms and enhancing the quality of life for people with advanced or incurable cancer.
The treatment of throat cancer may include a combination of these methods. Treatment aims to eliminate or eradicate the cancer while conserving as much normal tissue and function as possible. Therefore, it’s crucial to collaborate closely with a medical team to create a treatment plan customized to the patient’s specific requirements and objectives.
When to Visit a Dentist
If you experience any new symptoms that persist, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Due to the fact that most of the symptoms of throat cancer are similar to those of other diseases, your physician is likely to look for less severe explanations first. So call us at Smile Dental if you live in Toronto and notice any signs of throat cancer immediately!