Recognizing the 7 Common Symptoms and Causes of Throat Cancer

Recognizing the 7 Common Symptoms and Causes of Throat Cancer

The symptoms of throat cancer vary from patient to patient. Some patients may not experience any symptoms in the early stages and will only start experiencing symptoms once the disease advances.

That said, some patients do experience early symptoms, and it is important for these symptoms to not be ignored and to be checked by a doctor.

The following are the most common symptoms of throat cancer:

What are the Causes of Throat Cancer?

We still do not know what exactly causes throat cancer. However, we do know that there are a few factors that increase the risk of throat cancer. Having these risk factors does not necessarily guarantee a cancer diagnosis. The following are the important risk factors for throat cancer.

Smoking or tobacco consumption,Alcohol consumption

A diet low in fruits and vegetables

Exposure to asbestos (laryngeal cancer)

Chewing betel quid and gutka (oropharyngeal cancer)

Having Fanconi anemia or dyskeratosis congenita

Poor oral hygiene

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

Being overweight or obese

Being older

Does HPV Cause Throat Cancer?

Many studies have found a strong association between HPV and throat cancer. HPV, or Human papillomavirus, refers to a form of sexually transmitted infection. When it becomes chronic, HPV may lead to the formation of various forms of cancer, namely oropharyngeal cancer, cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, anal cancer, and penile cancer. HPV infection is usually transmitted through oral sex.

HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer or throat cancer occurs when HPV infects the cells present in the back of the throat, causes mutations in them, and triggers the formation of a tumor in the throat. In most cases, the HPV infection clears up by itself. However, in some cases, the infection persists and leads to cancer formation.

The risk of HPV-associated throat cancer is high among those who consume tobacco and alcohol. Its likelihood is also high among those with a compromised immune system. Common HPV-throat cancer symptoms include sore throat, cough, hoarseness, swollen lymph nodes, earache, etc.

Metastatic Throat Cancer Symptoms

In the early stages, throat cancer is localized and can be treated more effectively. However, as the disease progresses, it spreads to nearby and distant organs and is referred to as metastatic throat cancer. The following are the metastatic or end-stage throat cancer symptoms:

Difficulty Breathing or Coughing Up Blood

Often, throat cancer spreads to the lungs, and when this happens, patients start having trouble breathing and coughing up blood.

Bone or Joint Pain or Fractures

Throat cancer may also spread to bones in advanced stages. Secondary bone cancer occurring this way can cause bone or joint pain and fractures in cancer patients.

Importance of Understanding the Early Symptoms of Throat Cancer

There are many reasons why one should know about the symptoms of early-stage cancer. Being mindful of these symptoms and promptly seeing a doctor can support early diagnosis and timely treatment. Early diagnosis also helps patients with multiple treatment options. Also, early-stage cancers have much better survival rates when compared to advanced-stage cancers. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the various symptoms of first-stage cancer and consult a doctor when they find something not normal.

When to See a Doctor?

Those experiencing persistent symptoms that may indicate kidney cancer should consider seeing a doctor for a proper medical evaluation and prompt medical attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some early signs of throat cancer include a persistent cough, a persistent sore throat, a hoarse voice, the presence of a lump or mass, wheezing, difficulty swallowing, and fatigue.

Throat tumor symptoms should not be ignored, and one must promptly see a doctor if any of these symptoms last for more than two weeks.

Throat cancer can start in various areas of the throat, including the voice box (larynx), pharynx, tonsils, or the base of the tongue.

In non-smokers, chronic HPV infection, excessive alcohol consumption, exposure to harmful chemicals, poor oral hygiene, and disposition to certain inherited genetic disorders like Fanconi’s anemia and dyskeratosis congenita are some of the important throat cancer reasons or risk factors.

The throat tumor symptoms vary from patient to patient. Some symptoms come and go, or new symptoms may be seen. If any symptom lasts for more than two weeks, it is important to see a doctor for a proper evaluation.

Throat cancer symptoms should not be ignored. Those experiencing the early signs of throat cancer should see an oncologist and receive appropriate treatment. Different treatment options available for throat cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Throat cancer can be caused by multiple lifestyle and non-lifestyle factors. Tobacco and alcohol consumption, chronic HPV and EBV infections, predisposition to certain genetic disorders, exposure to harmful chemicals, poor oral hygiene, poor diet habits, etc. are some of the important throat cancer reasons or risk factors.