Most Common Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Throat Cancer


Most Common Causes, Symptoms and Treatment of Throat Cancer

Cancer has been a significant health concern in India as its prevalence and severity have taken a massive leap over time. As per the statistics, 8,00,000 new cancer cases get detected in India each year, and the load of throat cancer patients is now on the rise in India. Around 77,000 new cases and 52,000 deaths are reported annually due to throat cancer, which is approximately one-fourth of global incidences. The surge in throat cancer cases is the most concerning issue, as it has become the most prevalent type of cancer across India.

It is a nightmare to be diagnosed with throat cancer; however, today’s lifestyle has increased the risk of developing it. Here we highlight the causes, symptoms and treatment of throat cancer to help you stay informed if you experience anything alarming.

What is Throat Cancer?

Throat cancer attacks at the cellular level in the body and is caused by a breakdown in cellular function when normal cells multiply uncontrollably or do not get destroyed as they should. Squamous cells border the pharynx and larynx, giving the most common site of throat cancer. The cancer cells can attack your pharynx or the larynx as squamous cell carcinoma is potent enough to spread to other body parts, such as bones, liver and lungs.

However, throat cancer is used as a broad term as it has an impact not only on one organ but also on more regions of the throat. Throat cancer patients have cancer in their larynx (voice box) or the oropharynx (middle part of the throat) that is usually treated surgically. The procedure may vary according to the cancer stage, type, location and if it has spread elsewhere.

Causes of Throat Cancer

Everyone is always at risk of developing throat cancer, regardless of lifestyle or family history. Below mentioned are some of the major causes that cause throat cancer-

HPV or HPV 16: Since HPV is usually related to cervical cancer, HPV-positive is a rapidly growing cancer worldwide. If you are exposed to HPV, there are chances that you can get HPV-positive throat cancer.

Tobacco: It has become one of the significant causes of throat cancer. Smoking and smokeless tobacco (snuff or chewing tobacco) may put you at risk of developing throat cancer. Even a passive smoker could also develop throat cancer, so you may not get cancer if you are a smoker, but someone who is passive smoking could get it from you. Also, those who consume gutka or betel quid can be vulnerable. 

Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption could also put you at risk of developing throat cancer.

Other than these causes, limited or no consumption of healthy food and consuming excessive salt-cured meat and fish could also be the cause of throat cancer

Stages of Throat Cancer

The severity of throat cancer depends on what stage it is at. Mentioned below are the stages of throat cancer that could help you understand even better-

Stage 0: It is the beginning of the scale and could start from aberrant cells in the throat lining that could potentially turn out cancerous. It is also called ‘Carcinoma in situ’.

Stage 1: In the beginning of this stage, the cancer tumour is as big as 2 centimetres in diameter and has not spread to the lymph nodes. 

Stage 2: In this stage, the tumour grows more than 2 centimetres but not as big as 4 centimetres. Cancer doesn’t spread to the lymph nodes at this stage.

Stage 3: This stage progresses to the lymph node on the neck, where a tumour is more than 4 centimetres in size. In this stage, lymph nodes are less than 3 millimetres in size.

Stage 4: Being the advanced stage, cancer could be of any size. In most cases, cancer cells spread around the tissues such as the oesophagus, thyroid trachea, mouth and jaw. In severe cases, it can also attach lungs.

What are the Symptoms of Throat Cancer?

Symptoms may vary according to the type of throat cancer, as it can affect several areas of your throat in various ways. However, one may experience some common symptoms during early and advanced stages. Here they are-

Early Stage

  • Constant sore throat while swallowing food or drinking water
  • Noticeable change in voice (hoarseness) that continues for more than two weeks
  • Lumps in and around the mouth
  • Persistent pain in ears lasting for two weeks or more
  • Lumps in and around the neck

Advanced Stages

  • Swelling in lymph nodes (bulge in the neck)
  • Breathlessness (blockage in oesophagus or windpipe)
  • Weight loss due to swallowing problem
  • Constant headache, ear pain and nosebleed
  • Intense cough with blood
  • Patches in the mouth and around the tongue

Experiencing these symptoms may not always mean that you have throat cancer. These symptoms could also indicate mild illnesses. However, if you experience symptoms that last two weeks or more, see the doctor to know the root cause.

>>Also Read: Foods that lower the Risk of Cancer

Treatment of Throat Cancer

Health Practitioners use therapies that could work depending on the stage of cancer. To improve treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, your doctor will advise you to quit using tobacco or smoking as they could adversely affect your health. Below mentioned are the treatments for throat cancer-

Surgery: Surgeons will do one of many surgical methods to treat laryngeal carcinoma. Surgery is performed to kill as many cancer cells as possible while keeping your larynx and ability to talk and swallow unharmed.

Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy: Your doctor may combine chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy could be used before or after surgery. Radiation therapy helps treat minor tumours before or after the surgery.

Immunotherapy: To safeguard your immune system, immunotherapy can be recommended by your health expert if you are detected with throat cancer.

Targeted Therapy: Cancer cells are given proteins that help cells grow and replicate in this therapy. This treatment either restrains the development of cancer cells or kills them completely.

Does Your Health Insurance Protect You Against Throat Cancer?

The alarming number of throat cancer incidences is absolutely worrisome. One must adopt a conscious lifestyle and take preventive measures to combat fatal diseases like throat cancer. While the risk of throat cancer is increasing briskly, there is also a surge in treatment costs. Thus getting health insurance for cancer has become indispensable in these vulnerable times. Care Health Insurance’s Critical Mediclaim protects you against cancer and helps you preserve your savings during medical emergencies.

Disclaimer: The above mentioned information is for reference purposes only. Please refer to your policy document to know more about claims and procedures.

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