Cancer formed in the tissues of the pharynx is referred to as throat cancer. It begins in an area of the throat called larynx, which is used for breathing, swallowing, and talking. It is a disease where malignant cells are found in tissues of the lips, mouth, or tongue. The primary cause for mouth and throat cancer is smoking. People who consume excessive tobacco and alcohol are at a higher risk of developing this cancer. Other factors include prolonged exposure to sunlight, regular inhalation of coal dust, asbestos, and diesel fumes. The occurrence of this cancer increases after age 50, and is more prominent among men rather than women.
Some of the early symptoms are fairly general, and therefore, can easily be confused for some other condition or illness. Some of the common symptoms include:
- Chronic earache
- Chronic sore throat
- Difficulty speaking
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Feeling of numbness in the face
- Hoarse voice
- Pain while swallowing
- Visible sores in the mouth or on the tongue
The existence of throat cancer is determined by how long these symptoms last. Chronic or persistent cases of these symptoms can indicate cancer. Seek medical attention if you experience any combination of the aforementioned symptoms. While you may not have throat cancer, medical attention is necessary to rule out any alternate potentially serious underlying cause. Chronic symptoms include the following:
- Difficulty in Breathing
- Loss of speech or voice
- Disfigurement of face
- Deformities in skin
- Acute pain while swallowing
Various factors need to be taken into consideration before deciding on the right treatment as it is rather risky as well as complex. The location of the cancer and the stage of development influence the impact the treatment may have on your speech as well.
The type of tumor and the extent to which the cancer has spread determines the treatment. Radiation therapy and surgery are the most common methods of treatment. Typically, surgery may involve complete removal of the larynx or partial cutting away of the vocal cords. A hole is made in the neck through which a tube is inserted into the windpipe to help the patient breathe, which could be either temporary or permanent. Radiation therapy is a process wherein cancerous cells from a localized area are destroyed by using high-intensity rays. Radiation therapy is coupled with surgery when there is a recurrence of the tumor after surgery. Chemotherapy is also done if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.
Early diagnosis of the condition is essential for getting the best results from the treatment options. Following are some preventive measures that may help keep this disease at bay:
- Abstain from smoking or excessive drinking as they are the primary causes of throat cancer.
- Maintain proper dental hygiene. If you wear dentures, keep them well-cleaned and rinsed. Oral irritation increases the risk of oral cancer.
- A poor diet has been linked to oral cancer. Therefore, develop the habit of eating healthy and nutrient-rich meals regularly. Consume at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables everyday.
- It has been observed that over exposure to the sun increases the risk of developing oral cancer. The ultra-violet rays damage the skin on your lips. When you are out in the sun, always remember to use lip balm to protect your skin. Applying sunscreen on your face and body helps protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun.
Make a wise decision and abstain from smoking or excessive consumption of alcohol. Alternately, if you are a smoker, quit smoking. There is nothing worthwhile compared to good health and happy living. It is never too late to quit. Live a cancer-free life!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.