Throat cancer occurs when cancerous tumors develop on your voice box (larynx), tonsils, or in other areas of your throat (pharynx). This type of cancer is most often diagnosed in men older than fifty. The good news is that most of the time, avoiding known risk factors can prevent throat cancer from developing.
Tobacco use is a major risk factor for head and neck cancers, including throat cancer. In fact, these cancers are quite rare in those individuals who do not have a history of tobacco use. Alcohol use also increases your risk for developing these types of cancer. Individuals who use both tobacco and alcohol have the highest risk for developing throat cancer.
Some of the other risk factors associated with throat cancer include:
- Poor nutrition
- Weakened immune system
- Human papilloma virus (HPV)
- Poor dental hygiene
- Exposure to asbestos
Symptoms of throat cancer include a sore throat, cough, ear pain, hoarseness that does not improve within one or two weeks, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, a lump that does not heal, and unintentional weight loss. Your physician will determine if your symptoms are the result of cancer or some other problem. Do not put off visiting your doctor as treatment is most effective when started early.
When an individual is diagnosed with throat cancer, the physician will then stage the cancer to determine how far the cancer has spread. Staging is the most important factor in selecting an effective treatment plan for the patient. Your cancer care team will work with you to recommend various treatment options.
Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the most common types of treatment for throat cancer. If at all possible, the physician will attempt to save your larynx and voice unless the best option for survival is complete removal.
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, NC offers treatment, support, and resources for patients suffering from throat cancer and all cancers of the head and neck. Our comprehensive cancer center offers advanced technology and high quality care for all of our patients.