Throat cancer, also known as pharyngeal or laryngeal cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the throat and surrounding areas. This cancer can affect the vocal cords, larynx, tonsils, and other areas of the throat. It is a severe condition that can lead to difficulty in breathing, swallowing, and speaking, and significantly impact the quality of life.
Throat cancer risk is caused by various factors, including smoking, drinking alcohol, long-term exposure to certain chemicals, and certain viruses, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is also more common in people over the age of 55 and those with a family history of throat cancer.
Common symptoms include a persistent sore throat, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, ear pain, and a lump in the neck. The good news is that throat cancer is relatively rare, with only around 10,000 cases reported in the United States each year. However, with early detection and cancer treatment, the chances of a successful outcome are significantly increased. This article will discuss how common throat cancer is, its signs, and available treatments.
Who Gets Throat Cancer?
While the exact cause of throat cancer remains unknown, it is important to understand who is most at risk for developing it. The primary risk factor for this cancer is smoking. Cigarette smoke contains numerous carcinogens that can damage the cells of the throat and lead to cancer. Additionally, those who use smokeless tobacco products, such as snuff or chewing tobacco, are also at an increased risk. Alcohol consumption also increases the risk when taken in large amounts.
Exposure to certain types of chemicals, such as asbestos, is also associated with an increased risk. People with a weakened immune system also develop throat cancer more easily. Certain genetic factors may also play a role, as people with specific genetic mutations are more likely to develop the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer
Early detection of throat cancer is crucial, as it can significantly improve the chances of successful treatment. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of throat cancer to ensure early detection. Throat cancer’s signs and symptoms include:
- Persistent sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pain in the throat or neck
- A lump in the neck
- A persistent cough
- Unexplained weight loss
- Chronic ear pain
- Unexplained fatigue
- Bad breath
- Blood in saliva or mucus
- Unexplained fever
How Common Is Throat Cancer?
The American Cancer Society estimates that in the United States, there are approximately 12,470 new cases of throat cancer diagnosed yearly. Of this, 9,820 are men, and 2,650 are women. Throat cancer is a relatively rare form of neck cancer, with an age-adjusted incidence rate of approximately 3 cases per 100,000 people. Globally, the incidence rate of throat cancer is higher, estimated at around 8 cases per 100,000 people.
The incidence of throat cancer varies among different countries and populations, but in general, the disease is more common in men than in women and more common in older individuals than in younger ones. In the United States, the incidence rate is highest among men aged 60-64, with an age-adjusted incidence rate of 10 cases per 100,000 people.
Factors That Contribute to the Prevalence of Throat Cancer
There are many factors that can contribute to the prevalence of throat cancer, including lifestyle choices, environmental exposures, exposure to certain viruses and bacteria, and genetic predisposition. One of the most significant is air pollution in a given area. Air pollution can contain several carcinogenic substances, such as particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone, increasing the risk of throat cancer.
No wonder its incidence varies between regions, as people are exposed to different conditions. Here are five of the most common factors that can contribute to the prevalence of throat cancer:
1. Tobacco Use
According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco is accountable for over 80% of throat and lung cancers. People who smoke or use smokeless tobacco products are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop throat cancer than those who do not. It is also important to note that secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of throat cancer.
2. Alcohol Use
Studies by the National Cancer Institute have shown that people who consume more than four alcoholic drinks daily are at an increased risk of developing throat cancer. Furthermore, the combination of smoking and drinking alcohol increases the risk even more.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can also raise the risk of throat cancer. But how common is throat cancer from an HPV infection? Specifically, HPV-16 and HPV-18 are the two types of HPV that are most commonly associated with throat cancer.
Diet can also play a role in the development of throat cancer. Eating a diet high in saturated fat, processed meats, and red meats increases the risk of developing throat cancer. Additionally, eating a diet low in fruits and vegetables can also increase the risk.
Radon is a naturally occurring gas found in soil, rocks, and water. It is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, making it difficult to detect. Radon is the second leading cause of cancerous cells in the lung and can also increase the risk of developing throat cancer.
What Is the Survival Rate for Throat Cancer?
The survival rate is determined by several factors. These include the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed, the type of treatment for throat cancer chosen, and the patient’s overall health. It is important to state that the survival rate can vary depending on the type and stage of throat cancer.
Types of Throat Cancer
There are two primary types of throat cancer: squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and non-squamous cell carcinoma (NSCC). SCC is the most common type of throat cancer, typically found in the larynx or the hypopharynx. NSCC is a rare type of throat cancer typically found in the nasopharynx or the oropharynx.
Staging of Throat Cancer
The stage is determined by the size of the tumor, whether or not it has spread to other areas of the body, and the patient’s overall health. There are four stages of throat cancer:
Stage I: The tumor is localized and has not spread to other body areas.
Stage II: The tumor has extended to nearby lymph nodes though not to other parts of the body.
Stage III: The tumor has spread to other body parts, such as the lungs or the bones.
Stage IV: The tumor has spread to other areas of the body at stage IV throat cancer, including organs and distant lymph nodes.
The overall five-year relative survival rate for throat cancer is 70 percent. This means seven out of every ten people with throat cancer will live for at least five years after being diagnosed. The following is the survival rate for the four throat cancer stages:
The five-year relative survival rate for stage I throat cancer is 90 percent. Stage II throat cancer’s survival rate is 70 percent, stage III is 40 percent, and stage IV’s five-year relative survival rate is 10 percent.
In addition, the survival rate is higher for SCC than for NSCC. For SCC, the five-year relative survival rate is about 76 percent. For NSCC, the five-year relative survival rate is 44 percent.
Diagnosis of Throat Cancer
The diagnosis begins with a physical test. During this test, the doctor will examine for any signs or symptoms of throat cancer, such as a lump or a sore throat. The doctor may also order tests such as a CT scan, MRI, or biopsy.
Once the diagnosis of throat cancer has been confirmed, the doctor will stage the cancer to determine the size and extent, the type, and the treatment options available.
Treatment of Throat Cancer
The treatment depends on the type of cancer, the stage, and the patient’s overall health. Generally, the goal of treatment is to remove each cancer cell entirely if possible. Neck surgery is one of the most typical treatments and is usually used with radiation therapy or chemotherapy. However, these conventional cancer treatments often have unpleasant side effects, and some, like radiation and chemotherapy, can damage healthy cells and tissues, leading to further health problems.
We at the Immunity Therapy Center believe that early detection and natural treatments are the keys to successful throat cancer treatment. Our goal is to provide the highest quality of cancer care to our patients while offering effective and safe treatments that help to improve their quality of life. We offer natural treatments that have been proven effective in fighting throat cancer, including immunotherapy, herbal remedies, and lifestyle changes.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that helps boost the body’s natural defenses against cancer. It stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. We encourage our patients to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a balanced diet. When possible, treatment should start as soon as symptoms are detected. Since each person’s physical makeup is distinctive, their individual cancer cases are also distinct. As such, we’re here to aid you in locating a therapy option that’s ideal for your needs.
Written By: Dr. Adolfo Carrillo
Dr. Adolfo Carrillo is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Carrillo has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista for over 5 years as a treating physician at the Immunity the Immunity Therapy Center. Dr. Carrillo is a charismatic Doctor whose knowledge and commitment to patient care and bringing healing to patients is a valuable asset to our center.
- American Cancer Society. Key Statistics for Oral Cavity and Oropharyngeal Cancers. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
- American Cancer Society. Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco. https://www.cancer.org/healthy/stay-away-from-tobacco/health-risks-of-tobacco/health-risks-of-smoking-tobacco.html
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Problems Caused by Secondhand Smoke. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/secondhand-smoke/health.html
- National Cancer Institute. Alcohol and Cancer Risk. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/alcohol/alcohol-fact-sheet
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.