Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that grow in the throat (pharynx), larynx, or tonsils. Your throat is a muscular tube that begins behind your nose and ends at the back of your neck. Throat cancer most commonly begins in the flat cells that line the inside of your throat. Your larynx sits just below your throat and is also prone to throat cancer. The larynx is made of cartilage and contains the vocal cords, which produce sounds when you speak.
Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that covers your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils, which are located at the back of the throat.
Symptoms of throat cancer
Signs and symptoms of throat cancer can include:
Changes in your voice, such as hoarseness or slurred speech
A knot or wound that won’t heal
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if you notice new signs and persistent symptoms. Most throat cancer symptoms aren’t specific to cancer, so your doctor will likely look for other, more common causes first.
Causes of throat cancer
Throat cancer occurs when cells in your throat develop genetic mutations. These mutations cause cells to grow out of control and allow them to continue living after the normal death of healthy cells. The cells that build up can form a tumor in your throat. The cause of the mutation that causes throat cancer is unclear. However, doctors have identified factors that may increase your risk.
Types of throat cancer
Throat cancer is a general term for cancer that develops in the throat (pharynx cancer) or larynx (larynx cancer). The pharynx and larynx are closely connected, with the larynx located just below the pharynx.
Although most throat cancers affect the same cell types, specific terms are used to distinguish which part of the throat the cancer originates from.
– Nasopharyngeal cancer starts in the nasopharynx, the part of the throat just behind the nose.
– Oropharyngeal cancer starts in the oropharynx, the part of the throat just behind the mouth that contains the tonsils.
– Cancer of the hypopharynx (laryngopharynx cancer) begins in the hypopharynx (laryngopharynx), the lower part of your throat, just above your esophagus and windpipe.
– Vocal cord cancer starts in the vocal cords.
– Supraglottic cancer begins in the upper part of the larynx and includes cancer that affects the epiglottis, a piece of cartilage that prevents food from entering the windpipe.
– Subglottic cancer starts in the lower part of your larynx, below your vocal cords.
Risk factors for throat cancer
Some factors that may increase your risk of throat cancer are:
– Tobacco use, including smoking and chewing tobacco
– Excessive alcohol consumption
– A sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV)
– Diet low in fruit and vegetables
– Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Prevention of throat cancer
There is no proven way to prevent throat cancer. But to reduce your risk of throat cancer, you can:
– Quitting smoking or not starting to smoke
If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Quitting smoking can be very difficult, so ask for help. Your doctor can explain the benefits and risks of many smoking cessation strategies, such as: B. Medicines, nicotine replacement products and advice.
– Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
If you decide to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men over 65, and up to two drinks a day for men under 65.
– Choose a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
The vitamins and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of throat cancer. Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
– Protect yourself against HPV
Some throat cancers are thought to be caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. You can reduce your risk of HPV by limiting the number of sex partners you have and by using a condom every time you have sex.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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