Throat cancer occurs when normal cells in the throat change into abnormal cells and grow uncontrollably. Throat includes various organs called pharynx or larynx or epiglottis. Cancer of all these areas is commonly referred to as throat cancer.
Symptoms of throat cancer can vary according to the region where the cancer is. The following are common symptoms:
The exact cause of throat cancer is not yet known. But certain factors can cause throat cancer in the long term. These factors are:
The most common system used for staging lung cancer is the TNM system.
T stands for Tumour. It is used to describe the size of the tumour. It also helps to determine whether the tumour has grown into other parts of the organ or tissues around the organ. It is represented by a range of 1 to 4. The higher the number means the larger the tumour.
N stands for Lymph Nodes. It helps determine if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes around the organ. NX means the impact on lymph nodes cannot be determined. N0 means cancer hasn’t spread to nearby lymph nodes while N1, N2, and N3 means cancer has spread to lymph nodes. N1 to N3 also shows the range that how many lymph nodes are affected.
M stands for Metastasis. It is used to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body through blood or lymphatic system. MX means the metastasis cannot be determined; M0 means cancer has not spread to other body parts while M1 indicates that it has spread to other body parts.
Sometimes lowercase letters like a, b and c are used to divide the tumour, lymph nodes, and metastasis into subcategories. Also lowercase “is” is used to denote carcinoma in situ. E.g. Tis
This stage of cancer is also known as carcinoma in situ. The cells lining the throat are showing abnormal growth and have the potential to turn cancerous
The tumor is small (2 cm or less across) and is localized to the throat. It has not spread to any nearby lymph nodes and any distant organs.
Stage II tumor is larger than 2cm but not more than 4cm. It has not reached the lymph nodes and any distant organs.
In this stage, the cancer is either larger than 4cm or has spread to a lymph node on the same side of the neck as the tumor. That lymph node is also smaller than 3 cm. Cancer has not reached any distant organ.
It is the most advanced stage of throat cancer. The tumor may be of any size, and it has spread to nearby tissue, such as the neck, trachea, jaw, esophagus, mouth or other nearby organs.
Cancer is present in a large lymph node (which is more than 3cm in size) on the same side of the neck as the tumor, or multiple lymph nodes of any size on the same side of the neck as the tumor, or it can be one lymph node of any size on the side of the neck opposite the tumor.
Cancer may have spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs.
Certain factors increase the chances of developing throat cancer. These are termed as risk factors. The following are some of the risk factors for throat cancer.
Use of tobacco
Infection by HPV
Intake of excess amount of alcohol
Throat cancer applies to cancer that develops in the throat (called pharyngeal cancer) or in the voice box (called laryngeal cancer). Based on the cells in which it originates, the types of throat cancer are:
Based on the area of origin, the cancer types are:
Throat cancer is diagnosed by the following methods:
Throat cancer can be treated by one or a combination of the following treatments:
There is no definite way by which throat cancer can be prevented. But following these steps can help to a large extent: