Throat cancer refers to abnormal cancerous cells or tumors that develop in your voice box (larynx) or throat (pharynx). According to the national cancer foundation, throat cancer is the most uncommon of all other types of cancer and only affects 1.1 percent of adults. Statistics also indicates that 0.4 percent of men or women would be diagnosed with this cancer in their lifetime.
Although, doctors have not been able to state quite clearly what causes throat cancer. Risk factors such as Ageing, smoking, drinking excess alcohol, exposure to chemicals, poor diet and diseases such as human papillomavirus are believed to increase the chances of being diagnosed with this disease.
Overtime, throat cancer has been associated with other forms of cancer, as most people diagnosed with throat cancer equally get diagnosed with lung, esophageal or cancer of the bladder. The reason is not far-fetched; this is because cancer that occurs in one part of the body can quickly spread to other regions of the body if they are not properly tended to.
Throat cancer in its early stage may be difficult to diagnose as certain changes in voice or irritations in the neck are often time linked to viral infections. Hence it is advisable that people seek medical checkup, the moment they notice the slightest of changes to their voice or irritations in their neck that has persisted for longer than two weeks. Notwithstanding, below are a few symptoms associated with this disease:
Hoarseness Or Voice Changes
This remains one of the most easily spotted signs of throat cancers, as hoarseness in the voice is caused by the growth of abnormal cells or tissues in the larynx. A lot of time, hoarseness of the voice has been confused with viral infections of the larynx. However, you need to see a doctor and get yourself checked out when what has been presumed to be just a viral infection to the larynx refuses to clear up even after weeks of treatments.
Trouble Swallowing (Dysphagia)
When one develops a tumor in the throat, swallowing might become excruciatingly painful and discomforting. However, like hoarseness of voice, this might not directly point to throat cancer in people and may be due to other health conditions. Still, if symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, then a trip to your physician should be arranged as soon as possible for throat cancer screening and diagnosis.
Weight loss is another probable symptom of throat cancer and typically occurs in the advanced stage of the diseases as a result of not been able to eat properly due to swollen lymph glands or tumors in the throat.
A Persistent Cough
Not all coughs point to throat cancer disease. Some coughs may be caused by viral infections or other related diseases like tuberculosis. However, a cough that has persisted for more than two weeks even with treatment should raise the need for proper medical checkup and diagnosis.
As the tumor continues to grow in the throat, patients are going to experience difficulty in breathing, constant wheezing, sore throat, consistent need to clear the throat and visibly swollen lymph glands. Most of these symptoms usually precede hoarseness of voice. Hence people should always pay keen attention to their health by watching out for little details.
Finally, all the symptoms mentioned above might not directly point to throat cancer; thus, testing and screening remain the ultimate way of diagnosing throat cancer.