Throat cancer is a general term used to describe cancer that affects the larynx, pharynx or tonsils.
There are various types of throat cancer. All of these are the result of development and growth of abnormal cells. The most common type of throat cancer is the squamous cell carcinoma. This involves throat cancer of the flat cells lining your throat.
Throat cancer can further be broken into two common types. The first is pharyngeal cancer, which includes nasopharynx cancer (upper part of the throat), oropharynx (middle part of the throat, including tonsils) and hypopharynx (bottom part of the throat). The second type is laryngeal cancer which affects the larynx or voice box.
Signs and symptoms of throat cancer
One needs to be careful because the symptoms of throat cancer can be quite general, often leading it to be confused with other conditions or illnesses. If you have any of the following symptoms for a prolonged period of time, please contact your doctor:
- A chronic sore throat
- Chronic earaches
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Hoarse voice most of the time
- Face feels numb
- You experience difficulty when speaking
- It hurts to swallow
- Sores in the mouth or on the tongue
It can be difficult to evaluate these symptoms, since a simple health issue could be an early sign of throat cancer. The key indicator is how long these symptoms last. In most cases you need not worry, but if any of the symptoms above persist, it could be an early indication of throat cancer.
Causes and risk factors for throat cancer
- Smoking and use of tobacco products
- Regular and heavy consumption of alcohol
- Poor diet lacking in correct nutrition on a regular basis
- Long-term exposure to chemicals, pollutants or fumes at work or at home
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) via oral sex can also be a contributing factor