Throat and laryngeal cancer

What is throat and laryngeal cancer?

Throat and laryngeal cancer is a malignant tumor that affects the cells of the larynx, where the vocal cords are located. Tobacco and alcohol are the two main causes of the development of this disease. Depending on its location it can be classified into supraglottic tumor (above the glottis), glottic tumor and subglottic tumor (below the glottis). The symptoms of throat cancer are usually voice alterations, breathing and swallowing difficulties, hoarseness, cough, swelling and pain in the neck or expectoration in the neck. Early detection of the disease is essential to increase the life expectancy of patients. Treatment is based on the removal of the tumor, while preventing its spread to other parts of the body. Depending on the case, surgery may involve total or partial removal of the vocal cords, and sometimes treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy alone may be chosen.

Prognosis of the disease

Throat cancer can be cured if diagnosed early enough. As long as the cancer has not spread to the surrounding tissues or lymph nodes in the neck, almost half of the affected patients can be cured. If the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body outside the head and neck, there is no cure. Treatment will be based on prolonging and improving the patient’s quality of life. Once the treatment is completed, therapy will be necessary to help the cancer patient to speak and swallow. In cases where the person is unable to swallow, a feeding tube will be required. Follow-up and treatment should be followed closely to increase the cancer survival rate.

One of the symptoms that may appear are lumps in the neck.

Symptoms of throat and larynx cancer

The symptoms that occur when suffering from throat and larynx cancer can be any of these:

  • Strange breathing sounds.
  • Coughing.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Trouble swallowing.
  • Snoring that does not improve in 3 or 4 weeks.
  • Neck or ear pains.
  • Sore throats that do not get better in 2 to 3 weeks, even with antibiotics.
  • Swollen neck or appearance of lumps.
  • Weight loss without any reason or diet.
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Medical tests for throat and laryngeal cancer

The specialist will first physically examine the patient to check for any lumps on the outside of the neck, one of the symptoms of throat and larynx cancer. The specialist may also examine the inside of the throat or nose through a flexible probe with a camera incorporated at the end. On the other hand, the following medical tests can also be performed:

On the other hand the following medical tests may also be performed:

  • Biopsy of the suspected tumor.
  • Chest X-ray.
  • CT scan of the chest.
  • CT scan of the head and neck.
  • MRI of the head or neck.
  • positron emission tomography.

What are the causes of throat and larynx cancer?

It is necessary to underline that people who smoke or who use tobacco have a higher risk of suffering throat cancer. Consuming alcohol in excess for a long period of time is also another risk factor that can lead to the appearance of throat or larynx cancer. Finally, if these two substances are combined, the risk of developing throat cancer increases even more. This type of cancer usually appears in adults over 50 years of age. On the other hand, men are 10 times more likely than women to suffer throat cancer.

Treatments for throat and larynx cancer

Treatment is focused on completely removing the cancer and preventing its spread to other parts of the patient’s body. In cases where the tumor is small, surgery or radiotherapy may be performed to eliminate it. In cases where the tumor is larger or has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck, a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy will be used to preserve the larynx. If this procedure cannot be performed, the larynx is removed. This type of surgery is called a laryngectomy.

What specialist treats it?

The otolaryngologist is the specialist in charge of treating throat and larynx cancer. Top Doctors offers the patient the facility to make an appointment on-line or to consult by telephone any questions or concerns about this cancer.