Throat cancer is a common type of cancer, but when caught early it’s very treatable. Throat cancer happens when cells in the throat begin to divide in an abnormal way and form lumps or tumours. These tumours may grow into nearby tissues and organs like the thyroid gland, vocal cords and salivary glands.
The risk of developing throat cancer increases with age, smoking history, alcohol consumption and exposure to the HPV virus.
In this article, we’re going to look at the causes and symptoms of throat cancer to help you understand some signs to watch out for.
Early signs of throat cancer
Throat cancer is a common concern for many people, particularly because it can be easy to mistake symptoms for other health problems. What you might expect to be symptoms of a cold or other infection could actually point towards something more serious, such as throat cancer.
Symptoms like swallowing difficulties, for example, present themselves in many other illnesses, but can also be early symptoms of throat cancer. For this reason, if the symptoms persist then it’s worth getting it checked out.
Symptoms of throat cancer
Below are some of the more common symptoms associated with throat cancer:
- Unexplained ear pain
- Neck lumps
- Numbness or tingling in the mouth or tongue
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness when speaking
- Unusual bleeding or discharge from the mouth or nose—including blood that appears with coughing, sneezing, laughing or drinking hot liquids
Causes and risk factors of throat cancer
The most common risk factors associated with throat cancer are:
- HPV infection
Smoking and heavy alcohol use put a person at higher risk for many types of cancers, including those affecting the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx (cancers that start in these areas). Both smoking and heavy alcohol use increase your risk by causing changes in your cells’ DNA which can then lead to damaged cells that form tumours or other abnormal growths.
Is throat cancer treatable?
Although throat cancer is a serious concern, it is also highly treatable. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, please contact your doctor immediately or book a consultation with Mr. Olarinde at ENT Sheffield who will be able to advise and determine the best course of action.