Laryngeal and pharyngeal cancer is related to alcohol and tobacco consumption

Since the 1950s, malignant tumors of the pharynx and larynx have been very frequent, especially in males (85% of cases). They can be prevented by avoiding smoking and early screening.

Cancer of the pharynx and larynx is related to alcohol and tobacco consumption. In the case of cigarettes, the relationship lies in their combustion, from which tar is released. One kilo of tobacco (about 50 packs) produces between 50 and 60 grams of tar. In the case of alcohol, this acts as a local irritant and can solubilize carcinogens, enhancing their effect.

Another cause is the presence and involvement of the human papilloma virus.

What are the symptoms?

The initial symptoms are difficulty and pain in swallowing, which may radiate into the ear. In the case of pharyngeal tumors, the voice is not usually altered, while in laryngeal tumors hoarseness and voice changes (dysphonia) are frequent, caused by alterations in the vocal cords. If the tumor grows, it obstructs the airway making breathing difficult (dyspnea), sometimes even with bleeding in the mouth. These tumors often cause lymph nodes in the neck.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis is made by examination of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, as well as endoscopy of the larynx. In progressive and persistent dysphonia and neck masses, the ENT specialist will also perform an exploration with endoscopy.

What does the treatment consist of?

Treatment may consist of surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In recent years surgery has advanced considerably, allowing more precise treatments to avoid mutilation. Currently, the best curative results are obtained with surgery, whether radical or partial (open or endoscopic, which in turn can be conventional, laser or robotic).