Throat Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

The uncontrolled growth of harmful abnormal cells in throat is called throat cancer. Throat cancer forms in the tube that starts behind the nose and ends in neck called pharynx and in the voice box called larynx. Typically throat cancer develops in the organs that help to speak, swallow, and breathe. Throat cancer begins in the squamous cells that line inside the moist surface of throat. It also affect the epiglottis that act as the lid of windpipe. Throat cancer tends to grow rapidly.


The types of throat cancer are

Squamous cell carcinoma:

It is the most common type and affects the flat cells lining in the throat.


This type is rare and affects the glandular cells.


  • pharyngeal cancer
  • laryngeal cancer


The symptoms of throat cancer may be

  • Change in voice(hoarseness or cracking)
  • Trouble swallow
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Neck lump
  • Headache
  • Weight loss
  • Ear pain
  • Long-lasting cough


The specific cause is not known but there are certain factors that increase that increase the risk of throat cancers. The risk factors may include

  • Too much alcohol drinking
  • Using tobacco products for long time(smoking or chewing tobacco)
  • HPV infection( sexually transmitted virus)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the abnormal condition in which acid from stomach leaks into food pipe.
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Epstein-barr virus (EBV), a virus found in saliva

Other risk factors are


Men are five times more vulnerable to this disease than women.


The risk of throat cancer increases with age. Most people gat this disease at the age of 65 years.


African, American men are at high risk of throat cancer.

Chemical exposure:

Exposure to chemicals such as nickel, asbestos, and sulfuric acid fumes increases the risk of throat cancer.


In diagnosing process the doctor may ask about smoking, drinking habits, sexual history, and about general health. The doctor may check your throat by using different devices. The doctor may recommend other tests


A biopsy uses a tissue sample to examine under microscope to look for cancer cells. The process may be done with

  • Endoscope_ a flexible tube that contains a camera that is inserted into the throat through nose or mouth.
  • With surgery
  • Fine needle aspiration_ a thin needle is inserted into tumor to remove sample cells.

Imaging tests:

Imaging tests helps to detect the tumor and show how big it is. These include

  • PET scan
  • CT scan or MRI
  • X-rays

Stages of throat cancer:

Different stages of each type of cancer describe how severe it is.

Stage 1&2:

Smaller cancers and remain at one specific spot of organ.

Stage 3:

The disease may spread to other parts of throat or gone to lymph nodes.

Stage 4:

The cancer may spread to different parts like neck, head, or chest.  In most serious cases it may spread to parts like liver or lungs.


The treatment mainly depend on

  • General health
  • Stage of cancer
  • Where it is

The treatment cab be


High-energy rays are used to kill the cancer cells. Sometimes it is the treatment for early stage cancer. However, it can be used with surgery or chemotherapy for the treatment of later-stage cancers.


The effected tissues are cut out.  Doctors may use tissues from other parts of the body to restore the throats of parts.


Drugs are used to kill cancer cells. These drugs are used before and after surgery to shrink the tumors and to prevent the disease from coming back respectively.

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