Seven common symptoms of throat cancer
What is throat cancer?
Over the period of time cancer has become synonyms to death but it is good news that with advanced science and technology we can treat cancer. Among all the known cancers in India Throat cancer has affected the population at large and it refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils. Your throat is a muscular tube that begins behind your nose and ends in your neck. Throat cancer most often begins in the flat cells that line the inside of your throat. It starts with small un-healing ulcers leading to throat infections and then throat cancer.
There are two types of Throat Cancer
• Pharynx cancer
• Laryngeal cancer
Pharynx cancer: A group of cancers of the mouth, sinuses, nose or throat.
Laryngeal cancer: Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is a part of the throat, between the base of the tongue and the trachea. The larynx contains the vocal cords, which vibrate and make sound when air is directed against them.
Symptoms of Throat Cancer
• It will start with simple cough
• You will notice changes in your voice, such as hoarseness or not speaking clearly
• While eating or drinking you will find it difficult to swallow
• Ear pain will be continuous and unbearable
• Swelling in the neck which will be visible from outside
• Difficulty in breathing will follow later
• Unexplained weight loss
Cough: Patient has persistent cough which is at times difficult to distinguish from other causes of cough, as these patients are mostly smokers. But even in case you are non-smokers and have persistent cough you need to see a doctor. Persistent cough could be dry or with sputum, in all the cases please be careful.
Hoarseness: If any change in voice which is not related to recent throat infection, this should be given due importance and investigated. Voice change stops after certain age but if you find sudden voice change at the later age you must consider this are beginning symptoms for cancer.
Difficulty Swallowing: It occurs when cancer is projecting in the food pipe meaning your cancer has spread to later part of organ as well. This symptom also needs urgent evaluation.
Ear Pain: This occurs due to common connection between throat and ear. Prolonged pain shouldn’t be ignored in this case.
Swelling in neck: Any isolated swelling in the neck irrespective of especially if painless should be future evaluated.
Difficulty in Breathing: It occurs when cancer mass compression internally or externally on wind pipe.
Unexplained weight Loss: It is usually a late feature and patient will generally have above symptoms before having a weight loss. This will loss will be sudden and you will get tired easily.
Dr. Rajaj Bajaj,
Consultant, Medical Oncology,