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Throat Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Tests and Treatment

  • Posted on- Nov 18, 2015
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The throat cancer affects the mouth, the oral cavity or the pharynx, the upper part of the throat. The oral cavity and the pharynx have many functions in the human body like breathing, talking among other thing. The throat cancer will attack the oral cavity or the pharynx. It can be found with the idea of the common symptoms and can be treated. Usually the symptoms are common like sore throat or the pain in the throat while talking or breathing. The lump or nodule found in the mouth or neck is the main symptom for the throat cancer.

Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that acts as a lid for your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils, which are located on the back of the throat.

Symptoms of throat cancer

Signs and symptoms of throat cancer may include:

Throat cancer occurs when cells in your throat develop genetic mutations. These mutations cause cells to grow uncontrollably and continue living after healthy cells would normally die. The accumulating cells can form a tumour in your throat.

Types of throat cancer

Though most throat cancers involve the same types of cells, specific terms are used to differentiate the part of the throat where cancer originated.
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer begins in the nasopharynx - the part of your throat just behind your nose.
  • Oropharyngeal cancer begins in the oropharynx - the part of your throat right behind your mouth that includes your tonsils.
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer (laryngopharyngeal cancer) begins in the hypopharynx (laryngopharynx) - the lower part of your throat, just above your oesophagus and windpipe.
  • Glottic cancer begins in the vocal cords.
  • Supraglottic cancer begins in the upper portion of the larynx and includes cancer that affects the epiglottis, which is a piece of cartilage that blocks food from going into your windpipe.
  • Subglottic cancer begins in the lower portion of your voice box, below your vocal cords.

Tests and diagnosis of throat cancer

In order to diagnose throat cancer, your doctor may recommend:
  • Using a scope to get a closer look at your throat: Your doctor may use a special lighted scope (endoscope) to get a close look at your throat during a procedure called endoscopy. A tiny camera at the end of the endoscope transmits images to a video screen that your doctor watches for signs of abnormalities in your throat.
  • Removing a tissue sample for testing: If abnormalities are found during an endoscopy or laryngoscopy, your doctor can pass surgical instruments through the scope to collect a tissue sample (biopsy). The sample is sent to a laboratory for testing.
  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests, including X-ray, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) may help your doctor determine the extent of your cancer beyond the surface of your throat or voice box.

Treatment options for throat cancer

Your treatment options are based on many factors, such as the location and stage of your throat cancer, the type of cells involved, your overall health, and your personal preferences. Discuss the benefits and risks of each of your options with your doctor.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams from sources such as X-rays and protons to deliver radiation to the cancer cells, causing them to die. For early-stage throat cancers, radiation therapy may be the only treatment necessary. For more advanced throat cancers, radiation therapy may be combined with chemotherapy or surgery.
  • Surgery for early-stage throat cancer: Throat cancer that is confined to the surface of the throat or the vocal cords may be treated surgically using endoscopy. Your doctor may insert a hollow endoscope into your throat or voice box and then pass special surgical tools or a laser through the scope. Using these tools, your doctor can scrape off, cut out or, in the case of the laser, vaporise very superficial cancers.
  • Surgery to remove all or part of the voice box: For smaller tumours, your doctor may remove the part of your voice box that is affected by cancer, leaving as much of the voice box as possible. Your doctor may be able to preserve your ability to speak and breathe normally.
  • Surgery to remove part of the throat: Smaller throat cancers may require removing only small parts of your throat during surgery. Parts that are removed may be reconstructed in order to allow you to swallow food normally.
  • Surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes: If throat cancer has spread deep within your neck, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove some or all of the lymph nodes to see if they contain cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used along with radiation therapy in treating throat cancers. Certain chemotherapy drugs make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy. But combining chemotherapy and radiation therapy increases the side effects of both treatments.
  • Targeted Drugs: Targeted drugs treat throat cancer by taking advantage of specific defects in cancer cells that fuel the cells' growth. Cetuximab is one targeted therapy approved for treating throat cancer in certain situations. Cetuximab stops the action of a protein that's found in many types of healthy cells, but is more prevalent in certain types of throat cancer cells.


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24-05-2016 11:37 AM

I had a sore throat for about a month before my regular oncology checkup. It was in the right side of my throat and I didn't really notice it unless I was swallowing.

user profile image
29-12-2015 05:32 PM

Several Years ago I had the worst sore throat of my life. I had a raging fever, I could not swallow my own saliva, I could not stand up without help. I went to my doctor and was given a shot, antibiotics, and the regular stuff he always did that worked.

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