Throat Cancer

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What is Throat Cancer?

Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils.

Your throat is a 5-inch-long muscular tube that begins behind your nose and ends in your neck. Your voice box sits just below your throat and is also susceptible to throat cancer. The voice box is made of cartilage and contains the vocal cords that vibrate to make sound when you talk. Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that acts as a lid for your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils which are located on the back of the throat.

Symptoms of Throat Cancer

Signs and symptoms of throat cancer may include:
  • A cough
  • Changes in your voice, such as hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ear pain
  • A lump or sore that doesn't heal
  • A sore throat
  • Weight loss

Risk Factors/Prevention

There's no proven way to prevent throat cancer from occurring. However, if you are a smoker, quit now. Factors that can increase your risk of throat cancer include:
  • Tobacco use, including smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • A virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • A diet lacking in fruits and vegetables
  • Exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring fiber that's used in certain manufacturing industries

Stages of Throat Cancer

The stage of throat cancer is characterized with the Roman numerals I through IV. Each subtype of throat cancer has its own criteria for each stage. In general, stage I throat cancer indicates a smaller tumor confined to one area of the throat. Later stages indicate more advanced cancer, with stage IV being the most advanced.

References: Mayo Clinic, American Cancer Society,
The information provided by the is for informational purposes only.  The information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  We encourage our readers to consult with a physician if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.

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