Recognizing Potential Signs of Throat Cancer

Cancer refers to an uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells that result in the formation of malignant growths, also called tumors. And when these malignant growths occur in the voice box, vocal chords or tonsils and oropharynx region, they are known as throat cancer.

The throat is a muscular tube that begins behind the nose and ends in the neck region. Throat cancers usually originate in the flat squamous cells lining the inner side of the throat and are broadly categorized as laryngeal cancers (voice box) and pharyngeal cancers (throat). Throat cancers also include the tonsils and epiglottis (the cartilaginous lid of the windpipe).

Pharyngeal cancers originate in the pharynx, which is the hollow, muscular tube behind the nose going down to the top of the windpipe. The different types of pharyngeal cancers include nasopharynx cancer (upper portion of the throat), oropharynx cancer (middle portion of the throat) and the hypopharynx cancer (bottom portion of the throat). Laryngeal cancers form in the larynx, also known as the voice box. They include glottis cancers which originate in the vocal cords, supraglottic cancers (upper part of the larynx including the epiglottis) and subglottic cancers (lower part of the voice box, below the vocal cords).

For the doctor to plan an effective treatment regime, he will need to determine the specific location of the cancer in the throat. This can be done by conducting studies using an endoscope or laryngoscope (and biopsy collection) and scans like the MRI, CT and PET. An FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) biopsy from the tumor or associated swollen lymph node may also be performed to assist in determining the extent of the cancer.

The signs and symptoms also assist in diagnosis of throat cancer. Some of the important signs to look out for include the following:

• Dysphagia (problems with swallowing)
• Sore throat (chronic)
• Change in voice (hoarseness)
• Difficulty in speaking
• Persistent cough (might be stained with blood)
• Constant urge to clear the throat
• Difficulty in breathing (or wheezing)
• Swollen lymph nodes (around the neck and jaw)
• Disfigurement of the neck or face
• Skin hardening around the neck
• Ear pain
• Unexplained weight loss

If you feel you have these persisting difficulties that haven’t improved even after 2-3 weeks, then it’s better to discuss with an experienced doctor at the earliest. The highly-specialized team of physicians and surgeons at the Sita Bhateja Specialist Hospital in Bangalore are renowned for their high success rates – with even the most complicated of cases and should be your first choice of consultation.

Leave a reply