Throat Cancer usually develops at the back of the mouth, but is also known for beginning in or near the voice box, tonsils, base of the tongue, sinus or nasal cavities, lymph nodes in the neck, salivary glands, or even the soft palate.
Perhaps it doesn’t make sense that Throat Cancer can affect so many different areas; however, the throat is the entryway to both the respiratory and digestive systems. Although it is small, it is the connection of the nose and mouth to the esophagus (leading to the stomach, windpipe, and the lungs), and it allows us to speak, breath, and swallow.
Throat Cancer is known to be sneaky, for symptoms usually do not surface until later stages. Throat Cancer has so many different symptoms, it can sometimes be difficult to diagnose.
Common symptoms include:
- Ear or jaw pain (somewhat like a toothache)
- Hoarseness or voice changes
- Persistent cough
- White patches/sores in mouth or throat
The harsher symptoms include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Lump(s) in mouth, neck, or throat
- Bleeding of the nose or mouth
- Swelling of the neck, jaw, throat, or even eyes.
- Unexplained weight loss
Upon diagnosis, Throat Cancer falls into 3 categories – Oropharyngeal, Laryngeal, and Hypopharyngeal.
Oropharyngeal Cancer – soft palate, tonsils, base of tongue, and back/side walls of the throat
Laryngeal Cancer – larynx
Hypopharyngeal Cancer – bottom part of the throat
Metastatic Cancer – began as one of the above and spread to other parts of the body
Men are at higher risk to develop Throat Cancer(s). Statistics are split into different categories, showing that men are 5 times more likely to develop tumors in the larynx and 3 times more likely to develop oropharyngeal tumors. Surprisingly, African American men are the highest risk category for cancer of the larynx. Risk factors include the use of alcohol, acid reflux disease, and smoking tobacco. 70% of diagnosed Throat Cancer cases are linked to HPV (Human Papillomavirus).
The key to knowing how to diagnose and treat Throat Cancer is knowing your risks and family history, as well as keeping a close eye on any noticeable changes or symptoms. If you are in a high risk group, making sure to conduct periodic assessments is important. We are able to provide testing and examination; your health and safety are important to us.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today! (770) 237-3000