Cancer is such disease which has taken many lives from years and till now doctors have found many different types of it. Each type has its own structure which has properties to kill someone or produce various symptoms related to many other problems.
Cancer however in the advanced stages becomes very difficult to cure and various solutions like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are used to cure it, but the time period is not fixed for the healing.
many people die with it each year and this disease is also counted as a slower disease which spreads slowly in the starting but in its advanced stages, the tumor cells start to grow abnormally.
This abnormally increased value to cells becomes the reason behind the illness and can even take the life if not cured properly. So, throat cancer is also one of the types of cancer.
Throat cancer is found in various parts of the throat like voice box, vocal cords and parts around the throat. It can be in oropharynx and tonsils. There are in particular, two types of throat cancer.
- Laryngeal cancer
- Pharyngeal cancer
As compared to other types of cancers, throat cancer is a very less common disease. And from these two types, laryngeal cancer is the least reported.
Types of Throat cancer:
Other than just the main two types, there are subdivisions for the different types of throat cancer. It is important for one to know that what type of throat cancer someone is suffering from.
There are two primary types of the throat cancer:
Adenocarcinoma: This arises from the gland cells and affects glands of the throat. This is a very rare type of cancer.
Squamous cell carcinoma: This happens when flat cell lining is being affected by some cancer cells and this is the most common type of throat cancer that is found.
Just like this, there are two more types of throat cancer:
Pharyngeal cancer: This is the most common throat cancer which can develop in various parts of the pharynx which is a tube that runs from behind the nose to top of the windpipe.
This hollow tube is called as pharynx and cancer can develop in different parts of it, hence there are some subtypes of pharyngeal cancer on the basis of affected part of the pharynx tube.
- Nasopharynx cancer: when cancer is found in the upper part of the throat.
- Oropharynx cancer: when the location is at the middle part of the pharynx tube.
- Hypopharynx cancer: when cancer is at the bottom or at tale of the pharynx tube i.e. near the windpipe. Then it is called as hypopharynx cancer.
Laryngeal cancer: This cancer is also rare and develops in the larynx, that is voice box in our throat.
Symptoms of Throat Cancer:
It has been very difficult to recognise cancer in the early stages. This is not just the case only in throat cancer but in many other types of cancers as well.
But still in some cases, you may come to notice it and can recognize some of the following symptoms of throat cancer:
- You may feel change in your voice or vocal quality
- Sore throat is also one of the symptoms
- Unnatural weight loss
- Difficulty in swallowing
- You may find swollen lymph nodes in your throat
- Pain in ear
- You may feel constantly like clearing your throat
- You may have heavy cough and may find blood in it.
Although these symptoms may seem normal for a while and there are chances for this that they are normal but if all this lasts longer than two weeks then you need to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Causes of throat cancer:
There are sort of similar causes of lung cancer and throat cancer. Although men tend to develop throat cancer more likely than women.
Some of the habits of high alcohol consumption and smoking can be the reason behind throat cancer and most of the throat cancers are due to these.
Exposure to asbestosis and poor dental hygiene are also the reason behind the cause of throat cancer. Poor nutrition and sometimes genetic syndromes can also be the reason for this problem. But the priority is still to the alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.
Throat cancer is also observed because of human papillomavirus infections (HPV). HPV is an infection that is sexually transmitted. This is because HPV is a risk for oropharynx cancers.
As said before that throat cancer has many similarities with lung cancer and that is why it is seen that sometimes lung cancer, throat cancer, bladder cancer and esophageal cancers are parallel treated because of similar properties and risks.
Stages of throat cancer:
There are four stages of throat cancer just like other types of cancer and here are the following:
Stage 1: This is the very initial stage when tumor is only limited to less than 2 cm of the part where it has taken place and is only on a particular part of throat.
Stage 2: Tumor is spread to around 4 cm and is limited only to some part of pharynx pipe.
Stage 3: In this, the tumor has spread into other parts of the body too or may be it has affected lymph node system, which is most common in advanced stages. This is counted as the advanced stage of throat cancer.
Stage 4: During this stage the symptoms are directly visible and throat cancer has spread to the extent, if not cured it may give drastic results.
Diagnosis of throat cancer:
Treatment and diagnosis of throat cancer depends upon the symptoms of cancer you are dealing with along with the fact that to which extent cancer has spread.
There are chances that you will need to go for laryngoscopy and also for the other medical check-ups that are compulsory for knowing fully about the cancer
Biopsy is also one of the good and effective diagnosis for finding out the exact problems in an accurate manner. You may get suggested with the following biospies:
- Conventional biopsy. This is a procedure that includes eliminating a tissue from your body and observing it under the special microscopic instruments to know the type of cancer and understanding the nature of affected tissue.
- Fine needle aspiration (FNA).In this, a needle is directly inserted in your tissue to examine them inside your body, this is generally followed during early stages of cancer.
- Endoscopic biopsy. This tissue removed is done by endoscope and this is done by passing a pipe through your nose or mouth to examine cancer type and its stage as well.
Common tests for throat cancer:
There are number of tests to which a person dealing with throat cancer can go through and all these tests help in understanding cancer clearly and find out its solution as well.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):
In this, detailed pictures of your neck are made by passing some strong waves and magnetic rays through your neck. This is to locate and find out tumors in your neck and also to see that how much have they spread.
This process is done by laying you on a bed and machine creates your neck image. This process does not take very long time to do all this and comes out to be very helpful in your future treatment.
Positron emission tomography (also called as PET scan)
This process is mostly used when you are in advanced stage of cancer and this helps in creating radioactivity images of your body by injecting some kind of radioactive fluid in your body.
Computed tomography (generally called as CT scan)
In this, cross-sectional pictures of your body are made using X-rays and CT scan also produces pictures of various organs and soft tissues as well. This helps in recognizing the size of tumor and also lets doctor know about the spreading of tumor.
Just like this there are some more tests that you may have to go through to know more about your cancer. Recent and techniques have helped a lot in letting doctors know about the tumor type if the disease has spread in your body. And increasing day by day.
Treatment of throat cancer:
The cancer treatment includes various specialists and doctors that resolve this disease. You will need to contact various doctors or a team of doctors will be prepared for your treatment, this team may include;
- an oncologist, to help in surgery (removal of tumor cells)
- a radiation oncologist, to treat cancer using radiation therapy
- a pathologist, to test the tissue samples and understand the type of tumor more clearly.
There are different treatment options during cancer and may include any of these or mix of some of these options like, Chemotherapy radiation therapy and surgery. This is decided by doctors depending on the spread of problem and on other factors.
This is generally done in the starting of throat or any other cancer and in initial stages of the cancer has been caught. Surgery includes the removal of tumors when they are limited to one or two parts of your body. There are different types of surgeries that include:
- Endoscopic surgery. As the name clears, this procedure includes endoscope which is a long tube with camera and light is inserted in your body and then radiations are passed through it. Mainly, used for early stage cancers.
- In this, affected part of your vocal chords are removed in order to not spread the cancer further.
- During this, the whole vocal box is eliminated from your body depending on the fact that the whole portion was damaged with the cancer cells. Some people speak normally after this surgery, while some are trained to speak without vocal box.
- In this, some parts of your throat are removed.
- Neck dissection. Some lymph nodes from your neck are eliminated, mostly in case when the cancer is spread from throat to neck.
This is done by passing some high intensity rays to destroy the cancer cells within the body and radiation therapy eliminates only the cancer cells within the body.Some type of radiation therapy are:
- Intensity-modulated radiotherapy and 3D-conformal radiation therapy. In this, the shape of tumor cells help the waves to recognise cancer cells and kill them, and this is the most common type of radiation given to any patient for laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer.
- This is a very rare type of therapy when the radiation seeds are placed directly in or around the tumor cells to destroy them. this is used when the tumor cells are very strong and it becomes compulsory to destroy them.
This is nothing but collection of suitable drugs provided to you, it helps in controlling the tumor cells from spreading into body. Sometimes radiation and chemo run along in order to complete the treatment in time.
This is all about the throat cancer which is a rare disease but if it lasts longer then can be drastic and is capable to even result in death. Although this is a slow disease but when in advanced stages, it becomes mediatory to stop it from spreading.