Certain symptoms of throat cancer are unique, and can help diagnose the cancer at an early stage. Knowing the causes and the early signs of cancer can help increase the life expectancy of the patient.
Excessive smoking, chewing tobacco, excess alcohol consumption, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, poor dental hygiene, chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), exposure to certain chemicals or harmful radiation, regular inhalation of coal dust, asbestos, and diesel fumes, thyroid problems, poor diet, genetic predisposition, etc., are some of the important and common factors that are responsible for the development of the cancer of throat.
Signs and Symptoms
About five inches long throat that includes pharynx and larynx (voice box) is a tubular muscular structure. It begins just behind the tongue, and continues down the neck. Involvement of throat in speech, breathing, swallowing conveys how vital are its functions. A tumor developing in the throat can affect the functions of the throat severely.
- Sore throat: Soreness, or feeling that something is stuck in the throat is a typical symptom of cancer. This type of feeling can also be experienced in some other situations, so the symptom is usually neglected. Chronic sore throat that does not go away, and persistent cough should be considered as serious signs.
- Sores in mouth: If a cancerous tumor is growing inside the throat, there can be sores in the mouth or on the tongue as well. Malignancies in lips, mouth, or tongue are common when excessive smoking leads to development of the cancer. A lump or sore that doesn't heal is a sign of cancer.
- Chronic earache: A growing tumor in the throat can create pressure on the nerves, leading to earache. So, those who are suffering from earache over weeks, should consult the doctor immediately.
- Bleeding: Bleeding from the throat, or blood-tinged sputum is one of the major symptoms of throat cancer in women and men as well.
- Pain in throat: Pain and difficulty in swallowing food, or even liquids is another symptom that requires immediate medical attention.
- Changed voice: Along with difficulty in speaking, hoarseness, or a change in the voice quality is noticed.
- Enlarged nodes: If you notice enlarged lymph nodes, you should see your health care provider immediately.
- Numbness: Some women may notice numbness in the face.
- Weight loss: Pain and discomfort while swallowing and eating results in weight loss.
- Difficulty breathing: As the cancer advances, breathing difficulty is experienced by the patient.
- Deformities: Disfigurement of face and deformities in skin are noticed in the third or fourth stage of the cancer.
- Difficulty speaking: In the advanced stage of the cancer, the patient won't be able to speak at all. The exact location and stage of the cancer determine its effect on the speech.
Staging and grading of cancer helps plan the correct treatment. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus. Women should take precautions to reduce the risk of HPV which can cause cervical cancer and throat cancer. Other risk factors can also be limited by changing the bad habits like smoking and drinking, and by following a healthy diet.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.