Live a Healthy Life – Prevent Throat Cancer

fighting throat cancer

CANCER – This is one word that can cause shudders in even the strongest of individuals. Termed as the killer disease, the number of cancer cases has increased drastically over the years. There are more than 100 different types of cancers associated with different parts of the body.

What does cancer mean?

fighting cancer

                                                                                  (Graphic source : National Cancer Institute)

Cancer is a term used for diseases in which there is abnormal division of cells without control. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems (source: National Cancer Institute).

As we know, cell is the basic unit of life. Everyday new cells die and are replaced by new cells. In some cases, this process goes wrong. Cells do not die when required and new cells keep generating without control. These extra cells form a mass of tissue called tumor.

Throat cancer

Cancer that forms in tissues of the pharynx/throat or the Larynx/voice box is termed as Pharyngeal and Laryngeal cancer respectively or commonly known as throat cancer. The pharynx is a thin tube that runs from the nose to the neck and the larynx is situated right below the throat. Tonsils, located at the back of the throat are also susceptible to cancer.

Researches say there are 1 million new cancer cases coming up every year in India. In the last ten years, changes in lifestyle have played a major role in increasing the risk of cancer.

What causes Throat cancer?

  • Excessive smoking/ usage of tobacco
  • Consuming large quantities of alcohol
  • Human Papilloma Virus(HPV) infections
  • Chewing betel quid (paan)

fighting cancer   fighting cancer

Though there is no guarantee that a person who stays away from all these above stated activities will be safe from throat cancer, these will most certainly increase the risk of being affected.

Symptoms of Throat cancer

All the below symptoms might point to cancer. If you experience any or all of these symptoms for a long period of time, it is advised to have a quick consultation with your doctor.

  • Persistent sore throat that stays for weeks without improvement
  • Sudden change in voice(hoarseness)
  • Difficulty in speech
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Swelling/lump near the ear or throat area
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Ear pain
  • Blood in sputum
  • Extreme cough

Though all these symptoms might not always point to cancer and might be as small as flu, it is important to hear this from a trained physician.

Diagnosing Throat cancer

Based on where the cancer occurs, there are different types of throat cancer.

throat cancer

                                                           (Graphic source : National Cancer Institute)
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer begins in the part of the throat behind the nose.
  • Oropharyngeal cancer begins in the part of the throat behind the mouth Hypopharyngeal cancer (laryngopharyngeal cancer) begins in the lower part of throat, just above the esophagus and windpipe.
  • Glottic cancer begins in the vocal cords.
  • Supraglottic cancer begins in the upper portion of the larynx and includes cancer that affects the epiglottis, which is a piece of cartilage that blocks food from going into windpipe.
  • Subglottic cancer begins in the lower portion of the voice box, below the vocal cords.

From a detailed medical history analysis, methods like endoscopy, Biopsy and CT, PET scans all help in diagnosing cancer and identifying its stage. The earlier cancer is detected and treated, the easier it is to get cured.


Treatments vary based on the stage/severity of throat cancer. From a simple surgery to remove the cancerous tissue to months of radiation and chemo therapy, the treatment involves complete dedication from both the patient and the oncologist. More severe the disease is, the more time it takes for the treatment.

fighting throat cancer

The doctors aim at maintaining the overall health of the patient and make sure the cancer has not spread to other areas of the body.


Janani Balasubramanian is a Senior Blogger at with a passion and flare to write. She loves experimenting on topics ranging from health to beauty tips and general lifestyle and will review newer beauty and healthcare products in the market! Do keep in touch with her new work here!

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