Important! Oropharyngeal Cancer Symptoms You Need To Know
Oropharyngeal cancer symptoms can be confused with other illnesses, but we shouldn't ignore them. Being a non-smoker doesn't free us from danger
Oropharyngeal cancer isn’t only associated with tobacco. This disease centralizes in the mouth, tongue, palate and pharynx is also associated with solar light and the human papillomavirus virus (HPV).
It’s sufficient to say that while this kind of cancer doesn’t not have a high rate of incidence, it mostly occurs in those over 50.
This also increases as life expectancy increases, and in general is more common among men.
It’s important to recognize symptoms early, especially because we can confuse them with minor herpes, canker sores or minor oral inflammation that we’ve all suffered before.
The problem is more complex in non-smokers. When we talk about oropharyngeal cancer, most people think of smokers.
“If I don’t smoke, I’m not at risk of developing it.”
However, smokers or not, all of us have the possibility of suffering from it.
It’s therefore essential to have the right information to spot the symptoms in the earliest phases.
Oropharyngeal cancer symptoms
The majority of oropharyngeal cancers develop in carcinomas.
Carcinomas are a specific kind of cell in the form of thin, flat scales. They are not simply sores.
It’s normal that people with a weak immune system, accustomed to oral infections, sores or bleeding gums do not notice the symptoms associated with this illness.
If your doctor performs a comprehensive examination of the area of the tongue and pharynx, it can be detected.
Later, a biopsy will confirm whether this oncological illness is present or not.
Let’s look at the main symptoms.
Physical changes in the mouth
- The earliest symptom of oropharyngeal cancer are little sores that do not heal.
- It’s typical that red or white appear on the tongue, the gums or on the lips.
- Be aware of any unusual changes that do not improve in a few days and bring them to the attention of your doctor.
Minor pain that gets worse over time
Another of the main characteristics of oropharyngeal cancer is pain upon chewing or swallowing. People who use dentures will notice right away that their prosthesis bothers them and causes bleeding or pain.
- Talking is suddenly painful.
- Moving the tongue or even brushing the jaw will cause persistent pain.
- The pain may extend to the ears.
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Feeling of a “knot” in your throat
Difficulty swallowing, a regular irritation in the tonsils or even occasion coughing of blood are things we should never ignore.
- However, it’s worth noting that often times these annoyances do not mean something serious and even a tumor in the pharynx area may be benign.
- Most important is an early diagnosis, which means we must be alert to these changes.
Unexplained weight loss
Weight loss is common with most oncological diseases. In the case of oropharyngeal cancer, it’s normal to experience loss of appetite and even not be able to chew normally.
The immune system is weakened and that, without a doubt, will lead to gradual weight loss.
Can oropharyngeal cancer be prevented?
As we often say on this site, no disease is 100% preventable.
We can however control factors that reduce its appearance as much as possible.
This type of cancer is associated with:
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV). The type associated with throat cancer (including oropharyngeal cancer) is HPV 16.
- Ultraviolet light. Lip cancer, for example, is more common with people who work outside and are therefore more exposed to sunlight.
- Poor diet and weak immune system.
- Genetic disorders like Fanconi anemia.
Since we know the causal factors, it would be good for us to pay attention to our lifestyles, without becoming obsessive.
It’s never a bad idea to quit smoking, eat a balanced and diverse diet, use sun protection for the skin and lips.
To sum up, the most important thing is to not be scared. Don’t be afraid to consult your doctor, for example, so he can perform a simple examination.
It’s worth it to be cautious and always remember that our health should never be postponed.