Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Throat cancer is a type of cancer that grows in the throat (pharynx) and voice box (larynx). Cancer growth starts from the voice box or other parts of the throat. Check out the symptoms, causes, and how to treat it in the following review.
What is Throat Cancer?
Throat cancer usually starts in the flat cells that line the inside of the throat. The throat or pharynx is a tube that contains muscles. It is located from behind the nose to the neck.
In addition, throat cancer can also attack the voice box, aka the larynx. The voice box is made of cartilage which contains the vocal cords and their function is to produce sound when speaking.
Laryngeal Cancer Symptoms
The following are some of the symptoms that you need to watch out for, among others:
- Coughing excessively and does not go away.
- Ear pain.
- Difficulty swallowing and frequent choking.
- Changes in voice, for example not being able to speak clearly or voice becoming hoarse.
- Sore throat.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Feeling like there is a lump in the throat.
- Hard to breathe.
- A lump in the neck or throat.
When is the Right Time to See a Doctor?
Immediately consult a doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned above, especially if the complaint is accompanied by new or persistent symptoms.
Examination by medical personnel is important, considering that the complaints experienced can be caused by other conditions.
Causes of Laryngeal Cancer
Until now the cause of laryngeal cancer is still uncertain. However, what is certain is that this condition occurs due to excessive mutation of cells in the throat.
These cells then develop into abnormal cells. Its uncontrolled growth can eventually form tumor cells in the throat.
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Risk Factors for Laryngeal Cancer
There are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing throat cancer, including:
- Too much consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Using tobacco products, including smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- Human papillomavirus (HPV infection).
- Have an immune disease/impairment, such as HIV/AIDS, malnutrition or taking immunosuppressants.
- Genetic diseases, such as fanconi anemia.
- Occupational diseases, such as exposure to asbestos powder (asbestos), sulfuric acid, wood dust and nickel.
- Previous family history of throat cancer.
- Less consumption of fruits and vegetables (source of antioxidants).
Throat Cancer Diagnosis
Before making a diagnosis, the doctor will ask about the patient’s medical history and symptoms. In addition, doctors also usually ask about habits that can trigger throat cancer, such as smoking.
After that, a physical examination will be carried out to obtain information about the patient’s condition. If the patient is suspected of having throat cancer, the doctor will carry out several supporting tests, including:
This action is done to help the doctor see the condition of the throat. The tool used in the process is an endoscope; hose equipped with a camera. Later, the doctor will insert the endoscope into the throat through the nose.
The doctor will take samples of cells and tissue, then examine them under a microscope in the laboratory. This examination is to detect the presence of cancer cells. The tool used is an endoscope.
3. Imaging Test
This examination is done to detect the presence of tumors in the throat. Some tests that can be done, including:
- CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- PET scans.
Also Read: Can you drink cold water when you have a sore throat?
Throat Cancer Stage
The staging level is used to describe how far the tumor has grown and which part of the body has been invaded. By knowing this, the cancer treatment given can be more effective.
Throat cancer is divided into five stages based on the severity:
This stage indicates that the tumor is only in the upper throat wall tissue.
2. Stage I
At this stage, the tumor is detectable even though it is small (usually less than 2 cm). The tumor also only attacks the throat tissue where the tumor first appeared.
3. Stage II
The tumor is about 2-4 cm in size and has started to spread to the surrounding tissue.
4. Stage III
This stage indicates that the tumor is more than 4 cm in size and has spread to the tissues closest to the throat.
5. Stage IV
The tumor has started to spread to the tissues or organs outside the throat.
Throat Cancer Treatment
In general, treatment of early-stage throat cancer includes surgery or radiation therapy. In later stages, a person may need a combination of radiation and chemotherapy or surgery followed by radiation.
A number of methods of treating throat cancer, including:
1. Radiation Therapy
Radiotherapy is performed to kill cancer cells and reduce tumor size using high-radiation rays.
Radiotherapy rays can come from internal or external. Internal radiotherapy can be installed inside the body, to be precise near where the cancer grows.
Meanwhile, in external radiotherapy, the doctor will use an external tool that will be directed to the location of the cancer.
This procedure is done to reduce the size of the tumor before surgery. Doctors will prescribe cancer drugs to kill cancer cells.
Several types of drugs commonly used in chemotherapy, viz cisplatin, gemcitabine, paclitaxel, and others.
Surgery is performed to remove cancerous tissue. The type of surgery will be determined based on the stage of the cancer and the location where the cancer grows.
The doctor will remove part or all of the affected pharynx or larynx.
4. Targeted Therapy
This therapy is carried out by administering certain drugs to prevent gene mutations. Examples of drugs used are cetuximab.
Also Read: 9 causes of waking up with a sore throat and how to treat it
Meanwhile, treatment for throat cancer also triggers certain complications, such as dry mouth, difficulty eating or speaking, and loss of voice. Meanwhile jIf you don’t get good treatment, Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body.
Throat Cancer Prevention
In order to reduce the risk of this type of cancer, some things you can do are make lifestyle changes, such as:
- Quit smoking.
- Stop consuming alcoholic beverages.
- Use protective equipment to avoid exposure to toxic materials.
- Prevent infection human papillomavirus (HPV) by avoiding multiple sex partners, using condoms during intercourse, and HPV vaccination.
- Expand the consumption of fruits and vegetables or foods rich in antioxidants.
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- Kraft, Sy. 2019. What to Know about Laryngeal Cancerr. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/171568.php. (Accessed 9 February 2023).
- Moore, Kristeen. 2018. Laryngeal Cancer. https://www.healthline.com/health/laryngeal-cancer. (Accessed 9 February 2023).
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