Throat cancer is a type of head and neck cancer. Throat cancer has different names, depending on which part of the throat is affected. The different parts of your throat are called the oropharynx, the hypopharynx, the nasopharynx, and the larynx, or voice box.
The main risk factors for throat cancer are using tobacco heavy drinking. Certain types of throat cancer also have other risk factors. For example, having HPV is a risk factor for oropharyngeal cancer
Throat cancer is rare compared to other types. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), pharyngeal cancers occur in about 1 percent of adults in the U.S., and less than 0.5 percent of adults are likely to have cancer of the larynx.
- • Difficulty swallowing
- • Voice changes, especially hoarseness or not speaking clearly
- • Swelling of the eyes, jaw, throat, or neck
- • Bleeding in the mouth or nose
- • Coughing up blood
- • Wheezing or breathing problems
- • Pain when swallowing
Throat cancer has also been linked to other types of cancers. In fact, some people diagnosed with throat cancer are diagnosed with esophageal, lung, or bladder cancer at the same time. This may be because these cancers have some of the same risk factors.
Types of Throat Cancer
- • Nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the nasopharynx which is the part of the throat present behind the nose.
- • Oropharyngeal cancer starts in the oropharynx, which is that part of the throat present immediately posterior to the mouth and also includes tonsils.
- • Laryngopharyngeal cancer (hypopharyngeal cancer): This is that cancer which starts in the laryngopharynx or hypopharynx which is the lower region of the throat and is present superior to the esophagus and windpipe.
- • Glottic cancer develops in the vocal cords.
- • Supraglottic cancer develops in the upper region of the larynx and also includes cancer which is present in the epiglottis.
Radiation therapy is a treatment which involves the use of high-energy beams, like x-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be done from an outside source (external beam radiation) or from an internal source such as placement of small radioactive wires or seeds inside the body, near the site of cancer (brachytherapy).
Radiation therapy is beneficial for throat cancer, which is in the early stages and this may be the only treatment required. In case of advanced throat cancers, radiation therapy can be done in combination with chemotherapy or surgery.