Living with Head & Neck/Throat Cancer
Head & Neck/Throat cancer refers to any number of cancers that affect the larynx (voice box), esophagus and surrounding tissues. It may also be referred to as laryngeal, pharyngeal, or hypopharyngeal cancer. The vast majority of throat cancers are squamous cell carcinomas, which are cancers of the thin, flat cells that line the larynx and hypopharynx. Fewer than 15,000 new cases of throat cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year and the five-year survival rate is often above 50%.
The biggest risk factor for developing throat cancer is tobacco use, including cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking, as well as use of chewing tobacco. Excessve alcohol use is also a predominant risk factor for throat cancer, and the combination of alcohol and tobacco increases that risk exponentially. Other risk factors for throat cancer include diet, race, and workplace toxins. Symptoms of throat cancer include a persistent cough, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, ear pain, and changes in voice. The stages of throat cancer range from zero to IV, depending on how widely it may have spread. Throat cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these.
For more information on throat cancer, read the American Cancer Society's detailed guide.
If you have been affected by throat cancer, please be sure to take some time to read others' experiences, share your own experiences, and ask or answer questions. Don't forget to view our Beginner's Guide to Cancer.
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