Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer
Anatomically, the throat is the muscular tube that runs from our nose all the way down to the bottom of our neck. The cancer of the throat is characterized by tumors in the dominant parts of the throat region such as the larynx (voice box), pharynx, tonsils, etc. Throat tumor symptoms begin forming in the flat cells along the lining of the throat. This affects the organs and even the cartilage that helps us speak, breathe, and swallow. Other names for throat cancer include laryngeal cancer, the cancer of the glottis, tonsil cancer, pharynx cancer, or vocal cord cancer. Throat cancer can be the result of several causes such as genetic disposition, and lifestyle habits. These symptoms and signs are similar to illnesses like the common cold and require vigil supervision.
Initial Symptoms of Throat Cancer
As mentioned, the signs are similar to that of a common cold, so it may be difficult to identify initially. However, if the following signs and symptoms of throat cancer don’t go away in two to three weeks, you must see a doctor immediately:
A major change in your voice or continued hoarseness
Can’t having trouble swallowing (known as dysphagia)
Unprecedented weight loss
A sore throat
Trying to clear your throat constantly
A persistent cough in which blood may be coughed up
Swollen lymph nodes in and on the neck. There may even be swelling in the eyes, jaws, or throat.
Uncomfortable and frequent wheezing
Continuous ear pain
Other signs and symptoms of throat cancer are specific to the area affected. It is important to note that these symptoms may not indicate throat cancer every time. Seek professional help to know what are the signs and symptoms of throat cancer and what are your chances of getting it.
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Types of Throat Cancer
There are six different types of throat cancer, based on the location of origin and initial symptoms of throat cancer:
Nasopharyngeal cancer originates from the nasopharynx, which is the part of the throat present just behind the nose.
Oropharyngeal cancer starts from the oropharynx. This part of the throat is present right behind your mouth, including the tonsils.
Hypopharyngeal cancer (laryngopharyngeal cancer) begins in the hypopharynx or the laryngopharynx, which is the lower part of the throat. It is located just above one’s esophagus and windpipe.
Glottic cancer starts in the vocal cords and spreads from there.
Supraglottic cancer is found to begin in the upper portion of the larynx and negatively damages the epiglottis- the piece of cartilage that blocks food from entering the windpipe.
Subglottic cancer originates from the lower portion of the larynx or voice box.
On the basis of cells it attacks, you can identify the signs of throat cancer of two types:
A squamous cell carcinoma. This is the type of throat cancer that attacks the flat cells lining in the throat. It’s the most common throat cancer fund amongst patients.
An adenocarcinoma. This type of throat cancer is rare and it attacks the glandular cells of the throat.
Did You Know?
The size of the tumor and the extent of cancer depend on the stage of cancer the patient is on and the initial symptoms of throat cancer.
Stage 0: In this stage, the throat tumor symptoms are only on the surface and can be easily reduced.
Stage 1: The size of the tumor is around 2 cm. The throat tumor symptoms start varying massively from after this.
Stage 2: The size is between 2 and 4 cm and may have spread to another region.
Stage 3: It is larger than 4 cm and has spread into other throat structures or even to one lymph node.
Stage 4: The tumor has attacked the lymph nodes and other distant organs.
1. What are the Causes of Throat Cancer Symptoms?
Answer: Initial symptoms of throat cancer occur when cells within the throat develop malignant tumors. The throat tumor symptoms are the result of mutations within cells, which encourage the growth of the tumor while killing the healthy cells present. The accumulating cells can make the tumor in your throat bigger and spread across different parts of the body. Though there isn’t a clear cut answer as to how such mutations take place, doctors have identified several risk factors that may cause them. Causes may include alcohol abuse, using tobacco and products with tobacco in it, insufficient diet lacing nutritious fruits and vegetables, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and HPV (which is sexually transmitted).
1. What Measures can we Take to Prevent Throat Cancer?
Answer: The biggest way you can keep throat cancer away is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Regularly exercise (at least two and a half hours a week) and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Doing this gets rid of excess fat in the body. Don't indulge in unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking. Both put you at a high risk of developing symptoms of throat cancer by killing cells that protect us from cancer. Another thing you should do is reduce your chances of getting human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Practice safe sex, and if you don't have it already, get the HPV vaccine.
2. How Does Heredity Affect the Chances of One Getting Throat Cancer?
Answer: More or less, all throat cancers are related to smoking and aren't necessarily hereditary. If your family is predisposed to smoking, then the chances of you getting the disease are high. Several inherited genes can predispose family members to cancer in the throat, except for the larynx. Deformed or mutated DNA inherited from the parents may also put an individual at the risk of developing certain cancers. It is rare to see a case of throat cancer stem from genetic causes, but it has been seen that some people have trouble breaking down cancer-causing chemicals. This makes them more sensitive to potential risks like smoking, alcohol, chemicals, etc.