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All You Need To Know About Throat Cancer – Explainer

This is TheCable’s explainer on all you need to know about cancer of the throat

If you came across this news, you may have wondered for a quick minute about throat cancer and maybe imagined how the symptoms would physically manifest. Perhaps you imagined a lesion or even a swollen neck.

What is throat cancer?

It refers to a type of cancer that develops in the throat, also known as the pharynx.

The human throat is a muscular tube that begins behind the nose and ends in the neck. The voice box sits below the throat and contains the vocal cords.

The two types of throat cancer are pharyngeal and laryngeal cancers, also known as cancer of the pharynx and the larynx.

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What are the symptoms of throat cancer?

Symptoms of throat cancer include persistent cough, sore throat, a lump in the throat that does not heal, changes in voice, such as hoarseness or not speaking clearly, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, and sudden weight loss.

What causes throat cancer?

Throat cancer occurs when cells in the throat develop genetic mutations that cause them to grow uncontrollably. The continuous growth kills the normal cells. Then, the accumulating cells can form a tumour in the throat.

It is not clear what causes the mutation that leads to throat cancer. There are, however, factors that can increase the risk of throat cancer.

These risk factors include a family history of cancer, smoking and chewing tobacco, excessive alcohol intake, viral infections including human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus, and a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables.

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How can one reduce the risk of having throat cancer?

While there are no scientifically proven ways to prevent throat cancer, there are ways to reduce its risk such as eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding smoking, and protecting oneself from HPV.

How is throat cancer diagnosed?

Throat cancer diagnosis involves a few steps. A physical examination will be performed in which a doctor will examine the mouth and throat.

The examination also involves a series of blood tests, while an endoscopy will be carried out.

An endoscopy is when a thin tube with a light on its end is inserted through the nose to look for abnormalities in the throat.

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A chest x-ray and computerised tomography (CT) scan may also be carried out.

How is throat cancer treated?

Treatment of throat cancer will depend on the size of the tumour, whether it has spread all over the place, and the overall health of the patient.

The doctor will first need to find out what stage of cancer the individual has, that is, how far it has spread. This helps to determine the best treatment options.

Surgery may be recommended depending on the tumour size and chemotherapy may also be required.

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