What are the Different Types of Throat Cancer Treatment?

K. Gierok

Throat cancer is a serious condition that is not only quite painful, but can also be life threatening. To ensure complete throat cancer treatment, a variety of procedures will likely be needed. These procedures include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery, and oral therapy. Patients should talk with their doctor to determine which combination of treatments is best. Often, this determination is made based on the aggressiveness of the cancer, its stage, the age of the patient, and previous rates of success or failure. Continuous monitoring should be given to patients diagnosed with throat cancer, to identify possible recurrence.

A variety of procedures are usually needed to treat throat cancer.
A variety of procedures are usually needed to treat throat cancer.

Radiation therapy is often one of the first steps in throat cancer treatment. While radiation therapy is used for a variety of cancer types, it has been found to be especially effective in the treatment of this kind of cancer. Radiation therapy may include external beam therapy, in which beams of x-ray radiation are directed onto the specific part of the throat housing the tumor. Another form of radiation therapy is brachytherapy, in which small radioactive "seeds" are implanted near the tumor. These "seeds" kill the abnormal cells that cause throat cancer.

A lump in the back of the throat may be a sign of throat cancer.
A lump in the back of the throat may be a sign of throat cancer.

Throat cancer treatment may also include chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is often used when radiation therapy is not considered to be enough to kill the cancer on its own. It is typically used to shrink the size of the tumor and reduce the aggressiveness of cancer cells.

Another common type of throat cancer treatment is surgery. Surgery for throat cancer is rarely used alone, but is usually combined with either radiation- or chemotherapy. Depending on the size and aggressiveness of the tumor, a variety of surgeries may be used, and may include the removal of the larynx or pharynx. These procedures are typically only recommended for those with strong immune systems, as they can be put a great deal of strain on the body.

Oral drug therapy may be another option for throat cancer treatment. In oral drug therapy, medications are used to prevent the growth of the proteins that fuel cancer cells. As less and less of this protein is available, the cancer cells die. Individuals who are interested in this type of treatment should consult with their doctor to determine if it is an option for them.

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