Health & Wellness

10 Warning Signs of Throat Cancer you should not Ignore.

An uncontrollable growth of harmful cells in the throat can cause cancer. The throat which is the muscular tube starts from the back of your nose and ends in the neck. Cancer on the throat develops in the flat cells that line up your throat.

The cancer spread to other organs that help you in speaking and breathing. The throat has several parts that can develop cancer. This type of cancer affects the larynx and pharynx along with the section behind the nose which leads to stomach and the lungs.

 This type of cancer can also affect your cartilage which acts as a lid for your windpipe. Another type of throat cancer-Tonsil cancer affects the tonsils that are located behind your throat.

The best way to fight any kind of deadly disease is by catching it in the early stages when it is more likely to be treated.

Throat cancer can progress rapidly, that is why treating it early on can increase the survival chances. The issue is that with most types of cancers, there are very mild symptoms in the beginning. A trip to a doctor should be your priority is you observe any of the following ten signs of throat cancer.

1. Difficulty in swallowing

2. Soreness in the throat

3. Changes in voice such as hoarseness

4. Sudden weight loss

5. Bleeding in the nose and mouth

6. Blood in the cough

7. Swelling in the neck or eyes

8. Pain while swallowing

9. A lump which doesn’t go away

10. Pain in the ear

You should immediately consult a doctor if you observe any new signs and symptoms that are not going away.

As most of the symptoms can have other reasons as well, the doctor will examine the most common causes first.

What Puts you at High Risk of Throat Cancer?

Even though the specific cause of throat cancer is still not clear. The cancer is throat happens when normal cells keep multiplying uncontrollably and cause a tumour. There are several reasons that can put you at a high risk of developing throat cancer. Some of those are:

  • Using too much tobacco for a long duration. People who tend to smoke and chew tobacco are at the biggest risk of getting cancer of throat and even some other types.
  • If a person is drinking too much alcohol, then he/she is vulnerable to develop throat cancer.
  • Human papillomavirus or HPV which is a sexually transmitted virus is also linked to the cancer in throat which also includes tonsil cancer. Kids between the ages of 11-12 can be protected against HPV through vaccination.

There are many other risk factors which include:

  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Old age, generally after 60s
  • Men are at higher risk as compared to women.
  • Genetic Syndromes
  • Exposure to asbestos
  • Poor dental hygien

Types of Throat Cancer

Even though all throat cancers involve the abnormal growth of cells, but still your doctor needs to identify the specific type for the most effective treatment option.

Throat cancer can progress to many parts and different terms are used to specify the part of the throat where the cancer develops.

1. Oropharyngeal Cancer

This type of cancer occurs behind your mouth. The cancer grows in the back of the tongue and the tonsils.

2. Supraglottic cancer

The cancer begins in the upper part of the larynx and affects the epiglottis which functions by blocking food from entering the windpipe.

3. Nasopharyngeal cancer

This cancer occurs in the part of your throat just behind the nose.

4. Subglottic cancer

The cancer begins from the lower part of the voice box just below the vocal cords.

5. Oropharyngeal cancer

It develops in the oropharynx which is the part of your throat behind your mouth which includes your tonsils.

6. Hypopharyngeal cancer

This cancer develops in the lower part of your throat which is just above your esophagus and windpipe.

7. Glottic cancer

This type develops in the vocal cords.

Throat Cancer Stages

The different stages in Throat Cancer are defined as the follows

  • Stage 0:  The cancer has not spread to any other tissue or organ apart from your throat.
  • Stage I: The tumour is lesser than 7 cm and has only developed in the throat.
  • Stage II: The tumour has grown larger than 7 cm; however, it still remains in the throat.
  • Stage III: The cancer has spread to other tissues.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has now progressed and spread to other organs in the body.

Prevention is Better than Cure

There are no certain methods and ways to prevent throat cancer but you can reduce the risk of developing this deadly disease.

  • If you have been smoking a lot, then you should quit it and if you don’t smoke, then do not think of starting it at all. Yes, quitting smoking can be really difficult but you can get appropriate help. An expert can advice various methods that can help you in quitting smoking such as meditations and products to replace nicotine.
  • Consuming alcohol in moderation is fine but have too much of it on a daily basis can be lethal for your health and put you at risk of developing diseases including throat cancer.
  • Select a healthy and nutritious diet which includes a lot of veggies and fruits. The anti-oxidants in these foods can reduce the risk of developing cancer of throat and many other types.
  • Throat cancer is also caused by HPV. You can save yourself by limiting the sexual partners and using protection. Also, make sure to vaccinate your children when they are young.

The general cancer screening for throat isn’t available, but people who are at higher risk for developing it should see their doctors if any Signs of throat Cancer raise suspicion. Any delay in consulting a physician can cost your life, so do not wait for the warning signs to go away.

Dr Maria

MD. Board Certified physician. Fellowship In Family Medicine UK. 8 years of medical experience in Lifestyle-related health disorders. Graduated from AIIMS – All India Institute Of Medical Science, INDIA

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