Throat Cancer Symptoms

Throat Cancer Symptoms

Cancer is a life threatening disease that affects the body's basic unit, the cell. Cancer occurs when cells start dividing abnormally and form more cells without control or order. There can be more than 100 types of cancers in the human body.

Under the category of throat cancer are listed the vocal cord cancer, larynx cancer and cancer of the epiglottis. It has been found that men are 10 times more prone to develop throat cancer than women, especially after the age of 50. People indulging in excessive use of tobacco and alcohol are at high risk of developing throat cancer. Recent research has raised the possible link between viral infection by the human papilloma virus and cancer of the mouth and throat. Also, people exposed to sulfuric acid mist, nickel or asbestos at work place are at a greater risk of contracting the disease. However, in 25 percent of cases, cancer of the throat is not associated with any known risk factors.

The symptoms of throat cancer depend mainly on the location and size of the tumor. Most oral cancers arise on the lips, tongue or on the floor of the mouth. They also may occur inside the cheeks, on the gums or on the roof of the mouth. The symptoms of throat cancer are often confused with less serious conditions. An early indication of oral and throat cancer is marked with one or more changes in the way the soft tissues of the mouth usually look or feel.

Some of the key signs of the malignancy are hoarseness or other unusual changes in the voice that continues for weeks; a nagging cough sometimes accompanied by blood; a sore throat that persists even after regular course of antibiotics; sinuses that are blocked and will not clear; appearance of a white or red patch on the gums, tongue or the lining in the mouth; thickening of the cheek; bad breath followed by abnormally high-pitched breathing sounds; a sore or lump on the lip, in the mouth or throat that does not heal for a long duration; persistent pain or numbness in the mouth without any valid reasons; difficulty in chewing or swallowing; pain around the teeth; difficulty in moving the jaw due to pain or swelling; trouble in breathing and speaking; a prolonged ache in the ear; frequent headaches; pain or swelling in the neck and unintended loss of weight.  

On identification of any of the symptoms, a visit to the doctor is a must. The diagnosis is based on a series of tests ranging from a laryngoscopy to a cranial CT scan or MRI. A biopsy may also be conducted to analyze the tissues involved. Treatment is aimed at destruction of the cancerous cells and further prevention of the cancer spreading to the neighboring tissues or other parts of the body. If the tumor is in the early stages, surgery or radiation therapy can be used for its removal. However, if the tumor has extended to the lymph nodes in the neck, a more aggressive treatment of radiation and chemotherapy is often needed. In some cases, the vocal chords have to be removed altogether. Voice is restored by the implantation of artificial vocal chords.

The prospect of recovery in throat cancer is largely influenced by early diagnosis. Most cases of throat cancer are noticeable only in the advanced stages as it is difficult to gauge the preliminary symptoms of the illness. Once the malignancy spreads to the lymph nodes, the cancer could become incurable. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid the risk factors in one’s lifestyle and be vigilant towards the indications.

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Throat Cancer Symptoms