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Throat Cancer

What is it?

 

Throat cancer is the term for cancer that can either occur in the throat (pharynx) or the voice box (larynx).

 

Cancer within the throat and voicebox is usually the same type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, but it can appear in different areas of the throat. For this reason, the cancer is classified by where it is located in the throat.

 

Are there different types?

 

There are three main areas in the throat (pharynx) that can get cancer. These areas are called the

  • nasopharynx - upper tube
  • oropharynx - middle tube
  • hypopharynx - bottom tube

 

In the voicebox (larynx) there are also three main areas which can develop cancer.

  • glottis - this is the structure that holds the vocal cords
  • supraglottis - located above the vocal cords
  • subglottis - located below the vocal cords

 

Although throat cancer can be found in any of the above parts of both the throat and the voicebox, cancerous cells are typically found in the middle part of the throat, the oropharynx.

 

Who is more likely to be have throat cancer?

 

Risk of getting throat cancer is mainly related to both smoking and the human papillomarvirus (HPV). Smoking related cancer usually occurs in the middle and bottom of the throat, whereas HPV is connected to cancer found in the middle of the throat.

 

Throat cancer related to HPV is increasing and is usually found among younger people. Men and those 60 or older are the most likely to be diagnosed with throat cancer overall, but HPV related diagnoses are likely to occur when someone is in their 50s and sometimes younger.

 

Other risk factors that can put someone at a higher chance for developing throat cancer include

  • heavy alcohol use
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux
  • chemical exposure
  • not eating enough fruit and vegetables.

 

How can I know if I have it?

 

To diagnose throat cancer the may perform a common procedure called an endoscopy in which a small camera is inserted down the throat to take a closer look.

 

If the endoscopy comes back abnormal, it is likely that you will then have a biopsy (tissue sample) done for the doctors to test for cancer.

 

If the biopsy comes back as positive for cancerous cells, the medical professional may follow up with an imaging scan, such as a CT or MRI, to see if the cancer has spread to nearby areas.

 

I have it. Now what?

 

Treating throat cancer will dependent on the type of throat cancer you have and if it has spread. In addition if your cancer is related to an HPV diagnosis, your treatment plan may be structured around this as well.

 

Radiation is often the first treatment chosen to fight throat cancer. If the throat cancer has not spread, such as to the nearby glands (lymph nodes), then radiation may be the only treatment needed to kill throat cancer.

 

Surgery is also a main treatment for throat cancer. There are a few different types of throat cancer surgery depending on where the cancer is located. Surgery can be done to...

  • use a scope to laser to scrape or cut out tumor
  • remove part or all of the voicebox
  • remove a portion of the throat
  • remove nearby glands (lymph nodes)

 

Chemotherapy is also an effective type of treatment for throat cancer. In many cases it is used with radiation to kill the cancer but is not always neccessary.

 

Other combinations of treatment that can increase your chances of fighting the cancer is targeted drug therapies. These drugs are able to identify specific weaknesses in cancer cells and attack them. Targeted drug therapies can be used in combination with either radiation or chemo as well.

 

If your cancer isn't responding well to other treatment, immunotherapy can be considered for throat cancer in which the treatment helps arm the immune system to attack cancer cells. If you fall under this category, ask your doctor if this is something that would be right for you.

 

 

 

 

What is it?

 

Throat cancer is the term for cancer that can either occur in the throat (pharynx) or the voice box (larynx).

 

Cancer within the throat and voicebox is usually the same type of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, but it can appear in different areas of the throat. For this reason, the cancer is classified by where it is located in the throat.

 

Are there different types?

 

There are three main areas in the throat (pharynx) that can get cancer. These areas are called the

  • nasopharynx - upper tube
  • oropharynx - middle tube
  • hypopharynx - bottom tube
Graphic representation of Throat Cancer

 

In the voicebox (larynx) there are also three main areas which can develop cancer.

  • glottis - this is the structure that holds the vocal cords
  • supraglottis - located above the vocal cords
  • subglottis - located below the vocal cords

 

Although throat cancer can be found in any of the above parts of both the throat and the voicebox, cancerous cells are typically found in the middle part of the throat, the oropharynx.

 

Who is more likely to be have throat cancer?

 

Risk of getting throat cancer is mainly related to both smoking and the human papillomarvirus (HPV). Smoking related cancer usually occurs in the middle and bottom of the throat, whereas HPV is connected to cancer found in the middle of the throat.

 

Throat cancer related to HPV is increasing and is usually found among younger people. Men and those 60 or older are the most likely to be diagnosed with throat cancer overall, but HPV related diagnoses are likely to occur when someone is in their 50s and sometimes younger.

 

Other risk factors that can put someone at a higher chance for developing throat cancer include

  • heavy alcohol use
  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux
  • chemical exposure
  • not eating enough fruit and vegetables.

 

How can I know if I have it?

 

To diagnose throat cancer the may perform a common procedure called an endoscopy in which a small camera is inserted down the throat to take a closer look.

 

If the endoscopy comes back abnormal, it is likely that you will then have a biopsy (tissue sample) done for the doctors to test for cancer.

 

If the biopsy comes back as positive for cancerous cells, the medical professional may follow up with an imaging scan, such as a CT or MRI, to see if the cancer has spread to nearby areas.

 

I have it. Now what?

 

Treating throat cancer will dependent on the type of throat cancer you have and if it has spread. In addition if your cancer is related to an HPV diagnosis, your treatment plan may be structured around this as well.

 

Radiation is often the first treatment chosen to fight throat cancer. If the throat cancer has not spread, such as to the nearby glands (lymph nodes), then radiation may be the only treatment needed to kill throat cancer.

 

Surgery is also a main treatment for throat cancer. There are a few different types of throat cancer surgery depending on where the cancer is located. Surgery can be done to...

  • use a scope to laser to scrape or cut out tumor
  • remove part or all of the voicebox
  • remove a portion of the throat
  • remove nearby glands (lymph nodes)

 

Chemotherapy is also an effective type of treatment for throat cancer. In many cases it is used with radiation to kill the cancer but is not always neccessary.

 

Other combinations of treatment that can increase your chances of fighting the cancer is targeted drug therapies. These drugs are able to identify specific weaknesses in cancer cells and attack them. Targeted drug therapies can be used in combination with either radiation or chemo as well.

 

If your cancer isn't responding well to other treatment, immunotherapy can be considered for throat cancer in which the treatment helps arm the immune system to attack cancer cells. If you fall under this category, ask your doctor if this is something that would be right for you.

 

 

 

 

Symptom list:

Throat Cancer

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Financial support

Not all of us are able to afford the treatment we need. Search your insurance coverage, or check out what charities may be able to offer you for your condition.

p.s. Just because you have insurance, that doesn't mean that charities or other organizations are not able to support you too.

Emotional support

Whether it's a free counseling session or to find someone with a similar diagnosis, these Germie approved charities might be able to help. Click to explore their offerings!

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