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Throat Cancer

The throat is a muscular tube that begins behind the nose and ends in the neck. Throat cancer refers to cancer that develops in the voice box (larynx) or the throat (pharynx). It usually develops in the flat cells that line the inside of the throat.

Causes of Throat Cancer

  • Smoking
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Poor nutrition
  • Exposure to asbestos

Symptoms of Throat Cancer

  • Changes in the voice
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Patches or sores in the mouth or throat
  • Lump or sore that isn’t healing
  • Sore throat
  • Ear pain
  • Weight loss

Prevention of Throat Cancer

  • Avoid smoking
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Reduce your alcohol consumption
  • Avoid HPV infection

Diagnosis of Throat Cancer

  • Endoscopy – The doctor may use a special scope with a camera to get a closer look at the throat. The camera transmits images to a video screen that allows the doctor to look for signs of abnormalities in the throat
  • Biopsy – If there are abnormalities found during the endoscopy, the doctor might pass surgical instruments through the scope to collect a tissue sample and test it further in the lab
  • Imaging tests – Tests like CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans may help the doctor determine if cancer has spread beyond the throat

Treatment of Throat Cancer

  • Surgery – Depending up on the stage and location of cancer, various surgical options are available. Some procedures may include the removal of a part of your voice box or in some cases the throat. The parts are also sometimes reconstructed to allow smooth passage of food
  • Chemotherapy – This treatment uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells. It does this either by killing the cancer cells or by preventing their further division
  • Targeted Drug Therapy – This treatment uses drugs that are designed specifically to target the tumor cells. This can be used in combination with radiation therapy and chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy – It uses the body’s immune system to fight off cancer cells. Substances made in labs or by the body itself are used to boost and restore the body’s immune system and use as a defense against the cancer cells
  • Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation like X-rays and protons for killing the cancer cells or halting their growth and causing them to die. For small throat cancers that haven’t spread to the other parts of the body, radiation therapy may only be necessary. However, for more advanced stages of cancers, it might be combined with chemotherapy or surgery. It can prove useful in reducing signs and symptoms of very advanced throat cancers as well