The prognosis for throat cancer depends on how early it is detected and how extensively it has spread. Early detected cancers of this type have a 90% cure rate. Cancers that have grown into the neck or tissues surrounding the throat have a 50 to 60% cure rate. Once the cancer has grown, or metastasized, beyond the head and neck, it cannot be cured. In these cases, the goal of treatment is to prolong and enhance the quality of life.
A diagnosis of throat cancer means that cancerous tumors have formed in the patient's throat, termed pharynx, voice box, known as the larynx, or tonsils. This can also involve the epiglottis, which is a structure that closes off the windpipe. Cancer forms when the throat cells change, or mutate. These mutated cells grow and accumulate, causing a tumor to develop. The prognosis for throat cancer will be better the earlier the tumor is detected.
Symptoms of this type of cancer include coughing, trouble swallowing, and voice changes, such as hoarseness. Other signs are ear pain, sore throat, and loss of weight. Most of these symptoms can be caused by other disorders as well as cancer, so the doctor will need to perform the necessary investigations in order to rule them out. Patients are advised to see their doctor if they experience any new or persistent symptom. This aids in the early detection for a good prognosis for throat cancer.
Various lifestyle factors can increase the risk of this disease. The use of tobacco, whether it be through smoking or chewing tobacco, will increase the risk. Other factors involve excessive alcohol consumption, poor dental hygiene, and an inadequate dietary intake of fruits and vegetables. Those who work in manufacturing industries that use a chemical called asbestos will also have a greater risk. Taking measures to eliminate these factors can help prevent the occurrence of this cancer.
Treatment will depend on the location and type of the tumor, as well as the patient's prognosis for throat cancer. Radiation therapy involves emitting X-ray like particles to the cancer cells and may be the only treatment prescribed if the cancer is detected early. Chemotherapy, which is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells, might be implemented. Various surgical procedures might be considered, including removal of part or all of the pharynx or larynx. The lymph nodes in the neck may need to be removed as well.