Throat cancer is the most common cancer in India. In this type, the cancerous cells develop in the throat (pharynx) and spread towards the voice box (larynx). From the voice box, the cancerous cells spread rapidly to the nearby lymph nodes.
Types of Throat Cancer
Depending on the affected region, throat cancer is of the following types:
- Nasopharyngeal cancer: This cancer develops right behind the nose.
- Oropharyngeal cancer: This cancer develops in the throat behind the mouth and tonsils.
- Hypopharyngeal cancer: This cancer develops in the lower part of the throat.
- Glottic cancer: This cancer develops in the vocal cords.
- Supraglottic cancer: This cancer develops in the epiglottis and vocal cords of the larynx.
- Subglottic cancer: This cancer develops in the lower region of the larynx right below the vocal cords.
The initial symptoms of throat cancer may not be apparent. The symptoms, however, begin to flare up gradually. Hence, any sudden symptom should not be avoided and brought to the physician’s attention. The common symptoms of throat cancer are:
- Throat pain.
- Sore throat.
- Change in voice.
- Lump in the throat.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Persistent cough without cold.
- Blood in the cough.
- Difficulty speaking.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Pain in the ear.
- Abrupt weight loss.
Throat cancer is caused by:
- Excessive tobacco consumption and alcohol intake.
- HPV infection.
- Gender: It is more common in men.
Upon visiting the hospital, the doctor will conduct the following tests to confirm throat cancer:
- Physical examination: The first test in which the doctor will thoroughly examine any lump or nodule in the throat.
- Imaging Tests: Various tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs will confirm the appearance of cancer.
- Biopsy: This is the final test in which a small tissue will be retrieved from the throat and examined for the presence of cancer cells.
Depending on the patient’s condition, throat cancers are treated with a multimodal approach. A combination of chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, or targeted therapy will be planned according to the tumor size and growth.
- Chemotherapy: Anti-cancer drugs will be administered to the patient to kill cancer cells. This will either be administered before or after the surgery or as a part of palliative care.
- Surgery: The tumor cell and surrounding healthy tissue will be removed by surgery.
- Radiation therapy: During this procedure, the cancerous cells will be killed with high-intensity radiation beams. Sometimes, radiation therapy is performed to kill what would have remained after the surgery.