Throat is a muscular tube that begins from back of the nose and goes down to the neck. Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in the voice box, tonsils, or throat. Majority of throat cancers are caused due to environmental factors which may include use of tobacco products and drinking alcoholic beverages. Most of the times, the first signals of the throat cancer are missed due to their resemblance to common disease symptoms. This often leads to detection of disease at an advanced stage.
Identification of Throat Cancer
Once the first signs of throat cancer have been identified, it is imperative that examination be sought to confirm the diagnosis. Seeing a competent oncologist, who specializes in throat cancer, is important for accurate diagnosis. Complete physical examination is performed along with other tests. The common symptoms of throat cancer include the following:
- Problem with swallowing food.
- Pain in the throat.
- Bleeding from the mouth or throat.
- Raspy speech or a hoarse voice.
- Blood flecked phlegm.
- Feeling of a lump or something stuck in the throat.
If a throat cancer is located in the upper throat, diagnosis is confirmed by looking into the mouth. Endoscopy is required to confirm the diagnosis of throat cancer in the lower part of the throat. The other tests that may follow include MRI, CT, ultrasound, or PET scan. This helps to determine the accurate staging of the cancer and the extent of its spread to the surrounding lymph nodes.
Treatment Measures for Throat cancer
Treatment in the early stages includes radiation with chemotherapy. Minimally invasive surgery is also done for tumors that can be removed. Advanced tumors often necessitate major surgery which at times comes associated with reconstructive approach.
Measures of Prevention for Throat Cancer
There is no proven way to prevent throat cancer but stopping smoking can greatly help. It can be difficult to stop smoking and smokers might need to seek help with the same. There are many types of nicotine patches, medications, and counseling sessions that can help ease the cessation of smoking. Limiting the intake of alcohol also helps with prevention of throat cancer. It is important to cut down on the alcohol intake. Choose a healthy diet that consists of vegetables and fruits that come loaded with antioxidants and vitamins. It helps to eliminate the risk of being exposed to throat cancer. HPV or human papillomavirus is responsible for infection and spread of throat cancer. This particularly spreads to throat with oral sex. Exposure to certain chemicals like asbestos, nickel, sulfuric acid fumes, etc. can lead to throat cancer as well. It is important to avoid exposure to these chemicals. A screening test is necessary to those who are regular exposed to these chemicals.
Throat cancer and its treatment greatly affects hearing, talking, breathing, and dental health. It becomes important for throat cancer patients to receive speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation support and/or reconstructive surgery depending upon the progression of disease. Seeking accurate diagnosis of the problem is essential to prevent its progression into later stages.