Throat cancer is one of the most frightening and life-threatening cancers a person can have. It's important to get tested if you experience any of these symptoms and call for an appointment to see a doctor at once if you experience any throat cancer warning signs. There are many treatment options, from surgery to radiation therapy that make throat cancer survivable. But it's never too early to take action and be tested for throat cancer if you are experiencing some signs or symptoms!
People who smoke cigarettes, drink excessively, or abuse drugs like cocaine may be at higher risk for developing this type of cancer.
The throat is the passageway from the mouth to the lungs. The voice box (larynx) is located in the neck directly above it. Throat cancer can develop anywhere in this area and spread to other parts of your body like bones, lymph nodes, liver and brain. It's different from esophageal cancer which develops in a much lower part of the digestive tract.
Throat cancer often causes no symptoms until it has already grown large enough to spread, making diagnosis difficult at that point. Throat cancer is a disease that is considered as one of the deadliest cancers, with mortality rates high. It can be sporadic or hereditary. Globally, it is one of the most common cancers in males and females. More than 20000 new cases are diagnosed every year and over 6400 people die annually from throat cancer.
In rare cases, swelling of the neck or hoarseness occurs before any symptoms. If your doctor finds a lump in your throat, you should be seen at once to have it biopsied and examined with imaging tests like CT scans. These tests can find early-stage throat cancer and tell how far it has spread.
There are two types of throat cancer: early and late. It's possible for either type to spread to the lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy).
Early-stage (local) throat cancer is often cured by surgery, but many people with this type need chemo too.
Since late-stage (systemic) throat cancer is more aggressive than early-stage, the prognosis is much worse. About 20% of people who get this type of cancer die within a year of diagnosis. Among people who have it when diagnosed, 35% die within 5 years.
Recent research shows that early-stage throat cancer may respond better to treatment if patients start chemotherapy and radiation at least 4 weeks before surgery. This approach can shrink tumors, slow tumor growth and stop tumor spread or spread to other parts of your body (metastasis). Surgical removal alone may not be enough to cure or even slow down metastasis in some people if they don't receive this therapy.
Be aware that a lump in the throat that's not cancerous can be caused by almost any condition. A few of the most common are:
- Tonsillitis (also called pharyngitis) is an inflammation of the lining of the throat (pharynx) with accompanying sore throat and possible fever. It's very common.
- Parasitic infection, such as infestation by worm infections (diarrhea) like pinworms or hookworms, is common in developing countries.