8 Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Throat Cancer And How To Prevent It

Date December 22, 2017

What is throat cancer?

Throat cancer begins in the organs that help you breathe, swallow, and speak. Your throat is a hollow tube that begins behind your nose and ends in your neck. Only half of cancers develop in the throat itself. It can also start in the voice box or tonsils. This type of throat cancer is called laryngeal cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 0.3 percent of people will be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer at some point in their life. Michael Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2010, and he had to undergo eight weeks of chemotherapy and radiation to fight off this serious disease.

Throat cancer typically grows quickly, that’s why it is very important to diagnose it in time. Getting treated at an early stage gives the best chance to fight the disease.

Signs and symptoms of throat cancer

It can be hard to spot throat cancer in the early stages. The warning signs of the disease may include the following:

  • trouble swallowing;
  • voice changes such as cracking and hoarseness;
  • sore throat or cough that doesn’t go away;
  • headache;
  • unexplained weight loss;
  • swollen lymph nodes;
  • wheezing;
  • ear pain.

If you notice any of these signs, see your doctor as soon as possible. Most of the symptoms aren’t specific to throat cancer, that’s why your doctor will try to find more common causes initially.

Risk factors

There are certain factors that may increase the risk of throat cancer. They include the following:

  • tobacco consumption, including chewing tobacco and smoking;
  • alcohol abuse;
  • a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV);
  • gender: Men are five times more likely to develop it than women;
  • age: Most cases of throat cancer occur in people over 65;
  • chemical exposure, including nickel, asbestos and sulfuric acid fumes.

How to prevent throat cancer

Unfortunately, there is no proven way to protect yourself from throat cancer. But you can lower the risk by taking simple steps.

  1. Don’t smoke. If you smoke, stop. Quitting smoking can be very difficult, but your doctor can help. There are various effective stop-smoking strategies, so you can choose the best one for you. In some cases, your doctor may recommend medications and nicotine replacement therapy.
  2. Consume alcohol in moderation. Healthy males should drink no more than two drinks per day, and women should consume no more than one drink per day.
  3. Maintain a healthy diet, loaded with fruits and vegetables. Vitamins and antioxidants may lower the risk of throat cancer. Be physically active and take measures to lose excess weight.
  4. Protect yourself from HPV. Certain throat cancers are connected with human papillomavirus. Limit the number of sexual partners and practice safe sex.

Throat cancer is a serious disease, but if diagnosed early, it has a high cure rate. In some cases, throat cancer isn’t curable, but proper treatment can slow the progression of this condition.

Source: WebMD, HealthLine, MayoClinic

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.