Cancer isn’t something you can diagnose yourself. But it’s definitely something you might worry about; Is this sore throat due to allergies or a cold, or is it something more serious? You wouldn’t be the first person to lose some sleep with worries like this.
The reality is that only a physician will be able to accurately diagnose your symptoms. If you think you might be developing the early symptoms of throat cancer, it’s crucial to schedule an appointment.
What is throat cancer?
Throat cancer is something of a general term that refers to a group of cancers that can appear in various parts of your throat.
There are some similarities between some of these cancers. The throat is lined with thin, flat cells known as squamous cells. Normally, throat cancers will begin in these cells, and the resulting cancer becomes referred to as a squamous cell carcinoma.
These kinds of cancers appear in two distinct forms:
- Pharyngeal cancer: Your pharynx, which is the tissue behind your nose and mouth into your throat, is where these varieties of cancer begin to form.
- Laryngeal cancer: This kind is less common. It’s a cancer of your voice box or larynx.
Pharyngeal cancer comes in three primary varieties
Depending on the location, pharyngeal cancer is separated into three types:
Hypopharyngeal: The lower throat is the starting point of this kind of cancer.
Oropharyngeal: The starting place of this cancer is the middle of the throat (as the syllable “oro” implies) and in back of the tongue including parts of the roof of the mouth. This type of pharyngeal cancer is the most prevalent.
Nasopharyngeal: This cancer begins near the top of your throat, just behind the nose.
Some throat cancer symptoms
The primary difference between these cancers can only be sorted out by your doctor who will also be able to lay out treatment plans and prognosis. But you may be wondering how symptoms appear and what they may reveal, particularly if you’re at the point where you’re thinking about scheduling an appointment. Here are some possible symptoms of throat cancer:
- Persistently sore throat.
- Hearing loss in one ear.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
- Persistent ear infections.
- Red or white spots in your throat.
- Chronic hoarse voice.
- Tinnitus in one ear.
- Pain behind your nose or in your throat.
- A lump in your neck.
- Persistent trouble swallowing.
Throat cancer risk factors
Regrettably, there’s nothing in these symptoms that is totally unique to throat cancer.
It’s extremely common to develop conditions like tinnitus and hearing loss without having any cancer.
So as you’re giving thought to symptoms, it’s really beneficial to consider risk factors. Your chance of developing throat cancer dramatically increases by the following:
- Smoking tobacco or using chewing tobacco: These activities have been connected to high rates of throat cancer (in addition to other cancers).
- Acid reflux, or a type of acid reflux called GERD.
- HPV (human papillomavirus) infections.
- Excessive use of alcohol.
- Malnutrition or poor nutrition.
The occurrence of these risk factors or a family background of throat cancer can be a potent indication that you should get examined.
How is throat cancer diagnosed?
Physicians might use one of numerous methods to help diagnose a potential throat cancer. We may biopsy questionable tissue or order imaging scans of varied kinds (such as X-Rays or CT scans). In some cases, we need to get a closer look in your throat so an endoscopy will be done. (General anesthesia is sometimes used when an endoscopy is necessary.)
In your specific circumstance, we will be able to determine which tests will be needed.
What happens after diagnosis?
What occurs after the diagnosis will depend substantially on what we uncover. In many instances, what you thought was questionable will turn out to be quite benign. But in other cases, something more serious may be detected.
If it turns out you are diagnosed with throat cancer, early detection is critical. Some types of throat cancer have a relatively good 5-year survival rate, so treatment can save your life.
But the earlier you diagnose throat cancer, the higher the possibility of a positive result. So schedule an appointment right away if you suspect that you or somebody you love might be dealing with the symptoms of throat cancer.