Head & Throat Cancer
Getting to Know Head & Throat Cancer
Head and throat cancer may occur in the gastrointestinal and upper respiratory tracts, or the throat area. In other words, it’s the cancer of the ear, throat, and nose section. While some (such as enlarged thyroid or salivary glands) can be easily observed and diagnosed, others (such as oral cancer or ear cancer) may be more difficult to determine. In addition, there are some other types of cancer – for example, nose, nasopharyngeal and laryngeal cancers – which are more difficult to detect and require experienced specialists and particular tools to help diagnose the disease.
What Cause Head & Throat Cancers
In the past, chewing betel nut with tobacco was a common cause of head and throat cancer, but there are less such cases now. Today, the risk factors come mainly from smoking – regardless of whether it’s the smokers themselves or as secondhand smokers – as well as alcohol consumption. Moreover, heredity is also another risk factor.
Don’t Overlook These Dangerous Signs
- Unusual symptoms around nose and nasopharynx area – such as nasal congestion and stuffiness (especially on one side) that gradually worsens, undesirable odor in the nose, consistent blood in mucus, unilateral tinnitus (especially if there is no symptom of a cold or sinusitis), and pain in the ears while swallowing.
- Increasing hoarseness without any sign of respiratory infection or the use of a loud voice or shout, difficulty breathing which may include choking after swallowing.
- Pain in the ears while swallowing food, or chronic throat pain without a known cause.
- A persistent lump or growth on the throat without any pain.
Head and Throat Cancer Screening
Diagnosis for head and throat cancer can be done through the flexible high definition Fiberoptic Laryngoscope and Narrow Band Imaging (NBI) which helps detect abnormalities in blood vessels and tissue layers that can indicate an early stage of cancer.
Currently, most patients with head and throat cancer come to see a doctor when the disease has already progressed, which makes it difficult to treat and the result may not be favorable. Only 1 in 3 of the patients consults a doctor at an early stage of the cancer. So, early observation of the above-mentioned symptoms will help prevent the cancer from spreading and will yield satisfactory result after treatment.