Types, Symptoms and Causes of Throat Cancer

Throat cancer refers to the development of cancerous tumors in the throat also known as the pharynx, the voice box also known as the 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.

Your voice box sits just below your throat and is also susceptible to throat cancer. The voice box is made of cartilage and contains the vocal cords that vibrate to make sound when you talk.

Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that acts as a lid for your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils, which are located on the back of the throat.

Sourced from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/oral-and-throat-cancer/basics/definition/con-20042850

Not every throat cancer patient is the same. Cancer experts say that there are different types of throat cancer that a person could ail from.

There are two main types of throat cancer:

Squamous cell carcinoma develops in the thin, flat cells that line much of the throat. These cells look scale-like when checked under a microscope. This type of throat cancer is the most common in the United States.

Adenocarcinoma begins in the glandular cells of the throat.

Throat cancer includes several different cancers under the head and neck umbrella. Laryngeal cancer and pharyngeal cancer are two of the most common types of throat cancer.

Pharyngeal cancer is broken into three types:

Nasopharynx cancer forms in the upper part of the throat.

Oropharynx cancer forms in the middle part of the throat.

Hypopharynx cancer forms in the bottom part of the throat.

Laryngeal cancer refers to cancer that forms in the larynx.

Types of laryngeal cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of laryngeal cancer. It develops in the flat, scale-like cells that line the throat.

Adenocarcinoma begins in the glandular cells of the larynx that release mucus. This type of laryngeal cancer is rare.

Other types of laryngeal cancer include: lymphoepithelioma, spindle cell carcinoma, verrucous cancer, undifferentiated carcinoma and cancers of the lymph nodes, called lymphoma.

Types of pharyngeal cancer

Pharyngeal cancer is a form of head and neck cancer. Head and neck cancers include cancer of the throat, mouth, tonsils, nose, sinuses, salivary glands and neck lymph nodes.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of pharyngeal cancer. It develops in the thin, flat cells that line the throat.

Other types of pharyngeal cancer include lymphoepithelioma, spindle cell carcinoma, verrucous cancer, undifferentiated carcinoma and cancers of the lymph nodes, called lymphoma.

Sourced from: http://www.cancercenter.com/throat-cancer/types/

There are several throat cancer symptoms; some are very specific to certain body parts for instance a change in the voice of a person could signal voice box cancer. Research shows that throat cancer is likely to be suffered by persons over sixty years and that men are more prone to it than women.

The main symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:

  • A change in your voice, such as sounding hoarse
  • Pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing
  • A lump or swelling in your neck
  • A long-lasting cough
  • A persistent sore throat or earache
  • In severe cases, difficulty breathing

Some people may also experience bad breath, breathlessness, a high-pitched wheezing noise when breathing, unexplained weight loss, or fatigue (extreme tiredness).

Sourced from: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cancer-of-the-larynx/Pages/Introduction.aspx

There are certain factors that are known to contribute to a person getting throat cancer. These factors are known as risk factors. Every type of cancer has its risk factors and so does throat cancer. Among these factors are sexually transmitted infections like herpes and gonorrhea.

Factors that can increase your risk of throat cancer include:

Prolonged sun exposure. This is especially linked to cancer in the lip area, as well as skin cancer of the head and neck.

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). Research indicates that infection with this virus is becoming an increasingly common risk factor for some types of head and neck cancer. HPV is most often passed from person to person during sexual activity. There are different types, or strains, of HPV. Some strains are more strongly associated with certain types of cancer. HPV vaccines protect against certain strains of the virus. (See the Latest Research section for more information.)
  • Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Exposure to EBV, which is more commonly known as the virus that causes mononucleosis or “mono,” plays a role in the development of nasopharyngeal cancer.
  • Gender. Men are two to three times more likely than women to develop head and neck cancer. However, the rate of head and neck cancer in women has been rising for several decades.
  • Age. People over the age of 40 are at higher risk for head and neck cancer.
  • Race. Black people are more likely than white people to develop certain types of head and neck cancer.
  • Poor oral and dental hygiene. Poor care of the mouth and teeth has been suggested as a factor that may increase the risk of head and neck cancer.
  • Environmental or occupational inhalants. Exposure to asbestos, wood dust, paint fumes, and certain chemicals may increase a person’s risk of head and neck cancer.

Sourced from: http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/head-and-neck-cancer/risk-factors-and-prevention