When the cells of the pharynx, larynx, or tonsils lose the property of contact inhibition, the patient is said to have developed throat cancer. Contact inhibition is an important attribute of a cell through which they know to not grow after getting in contact with other cells. Throat cancer is developed from tobacco and alcohol use. In India, throat cancer is one of the primary conditions, with an estimated 17,000 novel cases reported every year. This cancer is the second most common cancer in men and the fourth most common cancer in women. Systematic early diagnosis and treatment of this cancer are important, as they can increase the chances of a successful outcome. Signs of throat cancer involve a persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, and a lump in the neck. If you are suffering from these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Treatment options for throat cancer majorly involve surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, and the type of treatment depends on the stage and location of the cancer. In this blog, we aim to make the important factors of throat cancer easily understandable.
6 Important types of throat cancer
- Laryngeal cancer: Cancer that develops in the larynx, or voice box. The larynx contains the vocal cords and is responsible for producing sound.
- Tonsil cancer: Cancer that develops in the tonsils, which are small masses of tissue at the back of the throat. There are three types of tonsil cancer: palatine, lingual, and pharyngeal.
- Squamous cell carcinoma: The most common type of throat cancer, which develops in the squamous cells that line the throat. This type of cancer is usually caused by tobacco and alcohol use.
- Adenocarcinoma: A type of throat cancer that develops in the glandular cells of the throat. This type of cancer is less common than squamous cell carcinoma and may be caused by exposure to certain chemicals.
- Sarcoma: A rare type of throat cancer that develops in the connective tissue of the throat, such as the muscles or cartilage.
- Lymphoma: A type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. Lymphoma can develop in the lymph nodes or in other parts of the body, including the throat.
Symptoms of throat cancer
Throat cancer can cause a range of symptoms that may vary depending on the location and stage of the cancer. Early detection is important for successful treatment, so it’s crucial to be aware of the common symptoms of throat cancer. Some of the most common symptoms of throat cancer include:
- Persistent sore throat: One of the most common symptoms of throat cancer is a persistent sore throat that doesn’t go away with time or treatment.
- Difficulty swallowing: Throat cancer can make it difficult to swallow, which can cause pain and discomfort.
- Hoarseness: Changes in the voice, such as hoarseness or a raspy quality, can be an early sign of throat cancer.
- Ear pain: Throat cancer can cause pain or discomfort in the ears, which can be a sign that cancer has spread to nearby tissues.
- Lump in the throat: A persistent feeling of something stuck in the throat or a lump in the neck can be a symptom of throat cancer.
Other symptoms of throat cancer may include:
- Coughing up blood
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue or weakness
- Breathing difficulties
- Numbness or tingling in the face or neck
Which treatment option is best for you?
- Surgery: It involves removing the cancerous tumor and the nearby lymph nodes, if necessary. This procedure can be effective if the cancer is detected in its early stages and has not dispersed to other body parts. Success rates for throat cancer surgery are generally high, with some studies reporting a five-year survival rate of up to 80% for certain types of throat cancer.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is based on using high-energy X-rays to neutralize cancer cells. This option can be used alone or in combination with other therapies. Success rates for radiation therapy depend on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the patient’s genetics and general health. For early-stage throat cancer, radiation therapy can have success rates of up to 90%.
- Chemotherapy: The principle of this therapy simply uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It acts by inhibiting some metabolic pathways necessary for cancer to grow. This treatment can be used in combination with other therapies to increase success rates. Success rates for chemotherapy also depend upon the type and strength of cancer. In some cases, chemotherapy can be used to shrink tumors before surgery or radiation therapy, increasing the chances of a successful outcome.
- Immunotherapy: It is one of the newer treatment options for throat cancer that uses chemical agents to boost the immune system’s ability to recognize and attack cancer cells. Success rates for immunotherapy vary with the patient and the specific drugs used, but this treatment has shown much success in treating some types of advanced throat cancer lately.
Why is early diagnosis of throat cancer important?
Throat cancer is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if left untreated. It is important to understand the symptoms of throat cancer so that it can be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. Here are some reasons why it’s important to understand the symptoms of throat cancer:
- Early detection: Understanding the symptoms of throat cancer can help you detect the disease early, which can increase the chances of successful treatment. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more treatment options are available, and the higher the chances of a cure.
- Proper diagnosis: Identifying the symptoms of throat cancer can help you to determine when it’s time to seek medical attention. If you have symptoms such as a persistent sore throat, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, or a lump in your neck, you should see an ENT doctor for further evaluation.
- Tailored treatment: Knowing the symptoms of throat cancer can help your ENT doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs. The right treatment plan can improve your chances of recovery and help you to manage the side effects of treatment.
ENT doctors play a critical role in the diagnosis and treatment of throat cancer. They are experts in the evaluation of the ear, nose, and throat, and are trained to identify the symptoms of throat cancer. A good ENT doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation, which may include a physical exam, imaging tests, and biopsies to determine the extent of the cancer.
Understanding the symptoms of throat cancer is important for early detection, proper diagnosis, and tailored treatment. If you experience any of the symptoms of throat cancer, you should seek medical attention from a qualified ENT doctor as soon as possible. A good ENT doctor will be able to evaluate your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. To book an appointment with ENT specialist Dr. Simple Bhadania at Ace Ent Clinic Ahmedabad.