Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat basically in pharynx, voice box known as larynx or in tonsils. Our throat is a muscular tube that begins behind nasal region and ends in your neck. Throat cancer is believed to begin in the flat cells that line the inside our throat.
Location of cancer:
- Throat cancer can affect the piece of cartilage known as epiglottis that acts like a lid for our windpipe. A form of throat cancer which is tonsil cancer affects the tonsils which are present at the back of the throat.
- Cancer in these locations can cause a variety of signs that depend on the exact location and the size of the tumor.
- Studies have shown that signs and symptoms of throat cancer may be nonspecific and go beyond the symptoms that arise from other conditions which are less serious.
- Tobacco and intake of alcohol use are the primary risk factors associated with throat cancer. Contagion with certain strains of the human papillomavirus is believed to pose an increased risk for some other types of throat cancer.
Signs and symptoms of throat cancer may include:
1. Changes in your voice or Hoarseness
A voice change or roughness can be a signal for the presence of throat cancer and basically the cancer of the larynx. However, this symptom is not explicit for throat cancer as it is associated with other problems also; for example, laryngitis is a viral infection of the voice box whose primary symptom is hoarseness or a roughness in the sound of your voice.
This change is short-lived and resolves when the infection clears. A relentless or progressive change in the voice requires medical evaluation from a health care professional to determine the cause.
2. A lump on the neck
Throat cancers can probably cause a lump in the neck, however, most of the symptoms may not always be present. You can notice ephemeral neck lumps along with upper respiratory infections, such as strep throat. If you experience a neck lump without an infection and it persists long after an infection goes away, then it signals throat cancer or some another serious condition.
3. The feeling of something permanently stuck in the throat
It is a symptom in which a person always feels like a person has got something t in your throat. This condition is called “foreign body sensation” in the medical world. This signals that maybe a tumor is blocking some part of your throat. Difficulty in swallowing can also be a throat cancer symptom.
4. Persistent soreness in throat
If you’re not sick but feel some kind of a scratchy sore throat then it could be a sign of throat cancer. Tumors that form below the vocal cords do cause this symptom.
5. Blood in a cough
Problems such as pneumonia or bronchitis can cause you to cough or spit up blood; however in the worst scenario throat cancer can, too. In case a person experiences, coughed-up blood that is usually bright red in color and appears bubbly because of mixing with air and mucus.
6. Gastrointestinal disorders
Such as excessive reflux, diarrhea or constipation.
7. Referred pain into the ears
Gastrointestinal disorders and some uncommon pain in the ears are uncommon symptoms of throat cancer.
Other symptoms may include:
- In case cancer starts spreading to local lymph glands or lymph nodes then neck swelling can be observed.
- If cancer spreads to other parts of the body, various other types of uncommon symptoms can develop.
Risk factors for throat cancer:
What is the exact cause of throat cancer is yet to be found but it is believed that tobacco products play a major role in about 80 percent of the cases. Risk factors may include:
- Regular consumption of alcohol
- Enlargement of the thyroid gland
- Radiation exposure
- A genetic predisposition
When to see the doctor:
Make an appointment with a health care professional if you notice any kind of above-mentioned signs and symptoms. Most of the symptoms associated with throat cancer aren’t precise to cancer, so your doctor will have to investigate some other more common causes first.