Throat cancer, also medically known as Laryngeal cancer is a general condition relating to cancer of the pharynx (the tube that starts from behind the nose ends in the neck) and/or larynx (voice box or vocal chords). In throat cancer, cancerous tumors develop in the throat, voice box or tonsils. More often, cancer begins in the flat cells that line the inside walls of the throat.
Throat cancers are often fatal malignancies that result in an estimated 300,000 annual deaths worldwide. In the United States of America, statistics reveal that over 12,000 new cases of throat cancer are diagnosed yearly.
Tobacco smoking stands as the chief predisposing factor for throat cancer. Other factors include alcohol consumption, nutritional deficiencies, genetic history as well as viral factors.
Throat Cancer Symptoms and Signs
Throat cancer may not show any signs, especially at the early stages of diagnosis. Sometimes a discoloration of the lining tissues or nagging irritation of the throat can be tell-tale signs. Other symptoms of Throat cancer includes the following:
• Presence of swelling of nearby tissues,
• Emergence of enlarged lymph nodes,
• When there is trouble breathing,
• When there is difficulty speaking,
• Presence of neck or throat pain,
• Ear pain,
• Pain experienced during swallowing
• The occurrence of headaches.
Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer
The signs of throat cancer vary from one individual to another. The most common symptoms are non-specific, but most sufferers will experience one or more of the following:
• Voice change or increasing hoarseness of the voice.
• A chronic Cough
• A persistent sore throat
• Nagging discomfort in the throat
• Difficulty in swallowing all or certain kinds of foods
• The presence of a mass or lump in the neck
• Weight loss (not intentional)
• Experiencing difficulty in breathing
• Piercing Ear pain
• Constant production of phlegm
Note that while these signs are necessary indicators, they are not sufficient because some other illnesses may mimic throat cancer. However, once any of these signs are noticed, the individual should see a physician without further delay.
Throat Cancer Survival Rate(s)
The survival rate for throat cancer, again, is unique to the individual in question. However, in broad terms, surviving throat cancer depends on a number of factors. These factors include the patient’s condition, the type/stage of cancer, treatment as well as fitness levels. Available survival statistics often follow a five year period, depending on the stage of cancer in the body. The following limitation should be noted:
• In order to obtain 5-year survival rates, physicians look at individuals who received treated for throat cancer at least several years ago. Also, treatments are improving with time, so people who are now being diagnosed with laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer may have a better outlook and better treatment options. This dynamic affects the average survival ratios.
• These statistics borders on the stage of cancer at the point of diagnosis. They will not apply to cancers that reoccur or spread to other parts of the body.
• As a rule of thumb, the rate looks at for people with laryngeal or hypopharyngeal cancer characterized by the stage (extent) of cancer. Note that the survival rates are higher for people with earlier stage cancers. However certain other factors play prominent roles in affecting the survival outlook of a patient. These factors include a person’s age and overall health, where the cancer is in the body, and how well cancer responds to treatment.
Throat Cancer Survival Rates by Stages
Stage 1 Throat Cancer
The development of throat cancer at this stage occurs in only one part of the larynx, with the vocal chords remaining untouched and still able to move. The patient can speak without any difficulty. In that case, the cancer remains in that part of the larynx and has not spread to surrounding tissues, lymph nodes or other organs.
The survival rates for individuals hover around 90percent (meaning 9 out of 10 will beat the illness for at least 5 years from the time of diagnosis.)
Stage 2 Throat Cancer
The throat cancer has spread to another part of the larynx from the first point where it had begun. In some peculiar cases, the throat cancer may grow into the vocal chords, limiting the mobility of that organ. However, the cancer does not affect the lymph nodes and other body organs.
The survival rate at this stage stands at 60 percent. In other words, 6 out of every 10 individuals will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
Stage 3 Throat Cancer
A number of scenarios play out in stage three throat cancers. Laryngeal cancer has covered much of the larynx but has not reached other body parts. Or the patient could suffer from one of the vocal chords being fixed. In the final scenario, the cancer infects a close by lymph node, the dimensions of which does not exceed 3 cm across.
For this category, expect survival rates of 60 out of every 100 adults( 60 percent, who can live for 5 years or more after the first time of diagnosis.
Stage 4 Throat Cancer
Stage 4 throat cancer represents a deadly onslaught of the infection. At this point may have reached into surrounding tissues such as the thyroid or food pipe. Cancer may have also spread to lymph nodes farther away and larger in dimensions. Other parts of the body may also have succumbed to the effects of the sickness.
The survival ratio takes a dive in this category. Only about 40 out of every 100 is expected to survive for more than 5 years after initial diagnosis.
Factors that Determine Throat Cancer Survival Rates
Again, it must be noted that no two individuals respond alike to throat cancer. This uniqueness also extends to the how each patient reacts to treatment paths and options.
One’s survival outlook depends on a number of factors. These factors include the stage of cancer diagnosed, the grade/class of the cancer cells, the location of affected organs and tissues as well as individual habits like smoking.
Throat Cancer Treatment Options
The treatment option for throat cancer depends on the severity and spread of the disease. Moreover, the physician selects a treatment regime tailored to the needs of the patient and provides him or her with the most plausible chance for a favorable outcome. The following are the most frequent treatment/therapy paths for throat cancer:
• Surgery: The various types of surgery for throat cancer include minimally invasive, transoral laser microsurgery, endoscopic, laser, robotic, and tumor excision surgery. These surgical interventions allow more normal function in swallowing and talking.
• Chemotherapy: Entails the use of drugs to shrink tumors and/or kill cancer cells after surgery and/or radiation treatment.
• Radiation therapy: This therapy centers on placing radioactive beads close to a tumor.
• Proton therapy: This radiation dose employs pencil beam technology. This pencil beams proton energy directly at the tumor while posing no threat to surrounding healthy tissue.
• Targeted therapies: Involves the use of drugs to inhibit the growth of cancer cells
• Cancer clinical trials: Victims consent to the use of experimental drugs or other methods that have potential to slow down or stop the propagation of the cancerous cells.