What is throat cancer?
The three main types of throat cancer are:
- Oropharyngeal cancer: Develops in the oropharynx area of the pharynx
- Laryngeal cancer: Forms in the larynx
- Hypopharyngeal cancer: Forms in the hypopharynx area of the pharynx
The throat is a small part of the body, which is a passageway for both the digestive and respiratory systems. The throat helps with:
- The oropharynx: This includes the base of the tongue, the roof of the mouth (palate) and the tonsils.
- The nasopharynx: The superior part of the throat behind the nose, above the palate.
- The hypopharynx: Also known as the laryngopharynx, forms the base of the throat.
The larynx is made up of three parts:
What is the first sign of throat cancer?
The early symptoms of throat cancer may be similar to a cold in the early stages (e.g., a persistent sore throat). Sore throat and hoarseness that persists for more than two weeks, should be immediately reported to a physician.
What does throat cancer feel like?
The advanced stage symptoms of throat cancer are:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Persistent cough
- A lump in the mouth, throat or neck
- Ear or jaw pain
- Difficulty breathing
- White patches or sores in the mouth
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bleeding in the mouth or nose
- Swelling of the eyes, jaw, throat or neck
- Throat discomfort
- Chronic sore throat
- Constant phlegm production
Throat cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body (metastatic cancer), leads to specific symptoms depending on the location:
How does a physician diagnose throat cancer?
Tests that are commonly performed by the physician to diagnose throat cancer are:
- A biopsy involves the removal of tissue to look for any cancerous cells.
- Imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), barium swallow or positron emission tomography (PET) can help in diagnosing throat cancer.
- Scoping procedures such as laryngoscopy, panendoscopy or laryngoscopy involve inserting an instrument (scope) into the mouth or nose to examine the throat.
How do you treat throat cancer?
Treatment of throat cancer involves:
- The specific type of cancer
- Location of cancer
- Stage of cancer
Treatment options for throat cancer are: