Everything you need to know about throat cancer
The throat (larynx) is an organ located in the middle line of the neck and serves to breathe, produce voice and protect the respiratory organs while swallowing. It consists of three anatomical pieces: glottis, the supraglottis and the subglottis.
How common is it?
Carcinoma of the larynx constitutes 1-2% of all cancers. Its incidence is 2-10 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It usually occurs in patients over fifty.
Many factors may affect the occurrence of larynx carcinoma. The biggest risk factor for its occurrence is smoking. In smokers, the risk of developing this type of cancer is 5-25 times greater. Consuming alcoholic beverages, especially if it is combined with smoking, increases the risk of this disease up to 40 times. Risk factors include gastroesophageal reflux, irritation with chemicals, asbestos, and so on.
The tumor is commonly found on the headspring and the first signs are changing the quality of the voice and hoarseness. If hoarseness lasts for more than 2 weeks, it is recommended that you immediately consult a doctor for the ear, nose and throat.
Other symptoms of larynx carcinoma are pain in the throat and ears, and in more advanced cases, wheezing, swallowing pain, and bloody saliva.
If the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, a swelling of the neck occurs.
In the treatment of larynx carcinoma, there are two therapeutic approaches: operative treatment and radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is commonly used as a complement to surgery and radiotherapy.
The type and extent of surgical treatment depends on the position and size of the cancer, as well as the extent of the disease, i.e. from the presence of local and distant metastases.
Operations may be functional when only the tumor is removed from a part or a whole voice box (chordectomia). There are functional larynctomias in which the tumor and part of the larynx are removed (partial horizontal and vertical laryngectomies). If the tumor is large and has been detected in a later stage, it is necessary to remove the whole larynx (total laryngectomy). It is necessary to emphasize that in most surgical interventions in order to provide breathing it is necessary to create a temporary or permanent tracheostomy, a neck opening and a pier through which the patient can breathe postoperatively.
If there are metastases in the neck lymph nodes, a selective or radical neck dissection should also be made and the lymph nodes removed on one or both sides of the neck. After surgery, an oncological examination and assessment for further treatment is monitored (radiotherapy, chemotherapy). Sometimes the tumor can be so large that it does not allow surgical treatment, and in those cases the only way of treatment is radiotherapy and chemotherapy.