As you know, oncological diseases can begin to develop in any organs and tissues of the body. In some, cancer is more common, in others less common, in some more understandable options, in others – not always obvious. Throat cancer is one of the biggest concerns. This, in fact, is a malignant formation in the pharynx or larynx, developing against the background of tissue changes due to adverse factors. At first, the main localization of the tumor is the throat, but then, as it progresses, it can be released to other organs.
The term “throat cancer” often implies a complex of pathologies that are localized in the larynx. Most often they are referred to a wide group of neck and head tumors.
The larynx starts from the root of the tongue, and from below it is limited to the trachea. Outwardly, the larynx looks like a funnel, which is directed downward with a narrow part. There are three departments in total:
- The upper one is located above the vocal cords.
- Medium – only the ligament area.
- The lower one is under the ligaments.
As experts note, about 60% of malignant tumors in the larynx region develop in the vocal cord area, a little more than a third are localized in the upper section.
It is also noted that most of the cancers in the throat are squamous cell carcinomas, that is, formed from the cells of the mucous membrane. Often, its development is preceded by precancerous changes, which, however, are rarely paid attention to. But sometimes it is enough to adjust the lifestyle in order to prevent the development of a terrible oncological disease. For example, you can quit smoking in time to reverse the dysplasia.
Sometimes laryngeal cancer can be called stage zero. We are talking about a situation when precancerous conditions are transformed into cancer in situ, which does not grow into mucous membranes, is quite easily detected and responds well to therapy. But, if you ignore such education, it will start to progress.
The first stage of throat cancer is as follows. The tumor may be in the area above the ligaments and not interfere with their work. If we are talking about education in the area of the ligaments, then at the first stage it will be slightly deeper than cancer in place, but at the same time it does not affect the mobility of the ligaments. If a tumor forms under the ligaments, then it also does not interfere there at this stage, does not metastasize and does not spread to the lymph nodes.
The second stage differs in other manifestations. If the tumor is in the upper section, then it extends to no more than one section of the larynx, but still does not interfere with the movement of the vocal cords. If we are talking about education in the area of the ligaments, then the tumor spreads to more than one part of the larynx, there is a violation of the mobility of the ligaments. If there is a tumor in the lower section, it can spread to more than one section and already disrupts the mobility of the ligaments.
The third stage of development of throat cancer is as follows. When an education is found in the upper section, the work of the ligaments begins to deteriorate, and the tumor can grow into the surrounding tissues. Cancer in the ligamentous area or in the lower section can lead to problems with the movement of the ligaments, and also invades the lymph nodes.
The fourth stage is characterized by strong spread to the surrounding tissues, as well as to the lymph nodes. Distant metastases are already noted.
Why does the problem appear
There are several causes of throat cancer. Among the two main ones are bad habits: the use of alcohol and tobacco. Chewing tobacco, poor oral hygiene, heredity, and the presence of the human papillomavirus can also lead to a problem.
This naturally raises the question: how much do you need to smoke to increase the risk of cancer? After all, not all smokers have such a diagnosis. Experts say that the number of cigarettes per day and the smoking history have a direct impact on the development of the problem. Accordingly, the higher these indicators, the higher the risk. If a person has a habit of both smoking and chewing tobacco, then, as noted by doctors, the risk increases by 3-4 times.
The timing of the development of throat cancer is individual, while it may be preceded by precancerous conditions for a long time:
- leukoplakia or leukokeratosis;
- chronic inflammation of the larynx;
- the presence of scars.
Symptoms of the problem
Naturally, many are interested in how to recognize a pathology in order to start treatment as early as possible. At the same time, as doctors note, the symptoms can be varied, it all depends on the localization of the tumor. In the early stages, throat cancer can be indicated by:
- hoarseness of voice;
- discomfort or foreign body sensation;
- sore throat;
- cough that appears on an ongoing basis.
The first doctor who should be consulted for such problems is the ENT.
Also, the development of throat cancer will indicate symptoms such as:
- an increase in temperature to subfebrile values;
- drowsiness and constant feeling of tiredness;
- increased fatigue.
The larger the tumor becomes, the more it interferes. Further disturbances of the voice will appear, the loss of its sonority and melody.
Of course, in connection with this pathology, many people have a question about the prognosis for survival. The first stage, as usual, responds best to therapy. In the second stage, doctors take 5 years or more. The third stage makes the situation worse: the probability of surviving for 5 years is 50%. Cancer found in stage four leaves almost no chance: only a quarter of people live more than 5 years.
A number of factors also affect forecasts:
- the patient’s age;
- concomitant diseases;
- psychological state, etc.
Diagnostics and treatment
The presence of a problem is determined by a whole complex of measures, which includes visual examination, analyzes and MRI with CT. Also, smears are used, etc. They are treated surgically, and there are methods of intervention in which you can save the organ by removing it in parts. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and other methods are also used, which are considered effective in each case in the opinion of the attending physician.
There are contraindications, specialist advice is required