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Early Signs of Throat Cancer

Throat cancer occurs in the throat. Its main causes are environmental factors such as drinking alcohol and smoking. Thus, throat cancer is easily preventable. However, it is easy to miss the first signs of throat cancer. Diagnosis typically takes place only after the cancer has reached an advanced stage. Because of this, it is essential to be aware about the first signs of throat cancer and to seek the help of a physician as soon as the symptoms are recognized.

signs of throat cancer

Throat Cancer Symptoms

Identification of throat cancer

Symptoms of throat cancer may vary considerably. This makes early detection of the disease difficult. Commonly experienced symptoms include a persistent sore throat, formation of a lump in the neck, difficulty in swallowing food, changes in voice and ear or neck pain. Hoarseness of voice is the first symptom which causes sufferers to seek medical attention. However, many attribute this symptom to a viral infection or an allergy. In early stages, throat cancer appears as white patches or ulcers in the throat. In some rare cases, it may present no symptoms.

Diagnosis of throat cancer

Once the first symptoms are observed, a thorough examination is needed to accurately diagnose the condition. Throat cancer patients should be examined by an oncologist who specializes in throat cancer. This is necessary because 10 to 15% of people who have throat cancer also have a secondary cancer somewhere in the body. Diagnosis consists of a battery of tests and physical examination.

If the throat cancer is located in the upper part of the throat, diagnosis is made by examining the mouth. If the cancer is located in the lower part of the throat, endoscopic study may be required. Once the location of the cancer is identified, the cells are removed and studied. Computed tomography, MRI and ultrasound may be used to determine if the cancer cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes. After the testing is completed, staging of the cancer is done.

Prevention of throat cancer

Throat cancer can be prevented by avoiding smoking and alcohol. Regular health checkups are also essential. Throat cancer is treated using a combination of surgery and radiation. In advanced stages, chemotherapy is used. Generally, more than 70% of throat cancer patients are diagnosed with the disease when it is in advanced stages.

Misconceptions about throat cancer

There is a misconception that non-smokers will not develop throat cancer. However, this is not true. If signs and symptoms of throat cancer observed, you should contact your doctor immediately, irrespective of whether or not you are a smoker. Throat cancer can easily spread to surrounding tissues. Symptoms such as hoarseness of voice and consistent sore throat should be investigated thoroughly.

Throat cancer is a significant health issue. Every year more than 25,000 people are diagnosed with throat cancer in the United States. Early diagnosis of the disease is crucial as the cancer cells may spread to other tissues. Early detection improves the treatment options and so it is essential for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of throat cancer.

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