Early detection of throat cancer greatly increases your chances of overcoming it. For this reason, although you might not be a high risk for it, it’s important to know the initial symptoms.
This type of cancer compromises the health of the pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, or tonsils as a result of abnormal cell growth.
Although it can affect anybody, the people with the highest risk of developing it are people who smoke or people who have suffered the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Currently, it is considered to be one of the most dangerous forms of cancer, since its lack of obvious symptoms prevents early diagnosis.
Considering this, we want to share some of the signals that could be useful for early detection.
1. Hoarseness or changes in your voice
Abnormal cell growth in the throat can start at the vocal chords; for this reason, one of the first manifestations of this disease is a notable change in the tone of your voice.
- Prolonged hoarseness for more than three weeks, or a sudden change in your voice, are sufficient reasons to visit a doctor.
- Sometimes, it may be caused by infections or problems associated with smoking; however, it may also be more serious.
2. Pain in the throat
It’s difficult to consider a simple throat pain as a symptom of cancer. Often, this irritation is caused by an infection of common respiratory illness.
However, when it’s persistent or appears intermittently, it’s important to find out its origin.
- The appearance of tumors in this area can cause the re-occurrence of this symptom. It may also be more intense when swallowing or shouting.
3. Bad breath
If you have bad breath and it doesn’t disappear with good oral hygiene habits, it could be a sign of something more serious. Although you don’t have to immediately jump to conclusions, you shouldn’t rule it out, either.
- Patients that develop this disease tend to have a lot of difficulty controlling the smell of their breath. This persists even though they might use mouthwashes or special oral hygiene products.
4. Difficulty breathing
Difficulty breathing, also known as dyspnoea, is a symptom that might signal an obstruction in the respiratory tracts.
- It can be caused by a serious infection, but also could be a sign of tumors.
5. Swelling in the neck
The appearance of bulges in the neck can be caused by various things. In this case in particular, it tends to occur because the tumour has managed to spread to the lymphatic glands located around the throat.
- This sign should be considered a good reason to visit a doctor immediately, since it might be a sign that the cancer is getting worse.
6. Persistent need to cough
Patients with respiratory problems or allergies tend to have recurring coughs due to the response of the immune system to the presence of a foreign agent.
When there’s a problem in the throat, part of the respiratory system, this system can be more chronic.
- At first, it may appear tom be a dry cough, accompanied by irritation. Then, when the tumor advances, it can cause ulcers or bleeding.
7. Noisy breathing
When the tumor isn’t addressed early, the cancerous cells continue dividing and causing great pain in the surrounding tissues.
As a consequence, they cause an obstruction in the respiratory tracts, causing noise every time the person inhales.
- This noise is know as laryngeal stridor and is the result of a tightening of the opening between the vocal chords.
- If it’s not treated early, the cancer could block it completely and cause asphyxiation and death.
8. Difficulty swallowing
The majority of patients with throat cancer begin to suffer significant weight loss due to a difficulty in swallowing food.
- The presence of tumours narrows the esophagal opening and causes food to get stuck. This, in turn, causes muscular weakness and increases the recurrence of acid reflux.
After identifying these symptoms, it’s crucial that you go immediately to a specialist.
The doctor, after having done a thorough evaluation of your symptoms, may request an endoscopic exam or other tests to confirm the diagnosis.