Music gtgt Background music When we say throat cancer we’re really talking about a variety of malignancies that can occur from the oral cavity or mouth, onto the pharynx or back of the throat, or down in larynx or voice box, and we can expand that discussion even further to talk about the groups of tumors that are collectively called head and neck cancer. And this includes the various throat cancers plus tumors in the thyroid gland, the salivary glands, the lymph nodes or even the skin of the head and neck.
There are several signs or symptoms that can be very concerning for the development of head and neck cancer. One of them is hoarseness not everybody can become hoarse from time to time associated with a cold or something like that, but hoarseness that’s persistent say for a month or so, really should be evaluated by an otolaryngologist head and neck surgeon commonly called an ear, nose and throat physician. Another worrisome symptom would be dysphagia or trouble swallowing particularly trouble swallowing salads or if it’s associated with what we call odynophagia which means pain with swallowing.
Another potential worrisome sign for throat cancer is a nonhealing sore or a lump in the neck, and this can be an area in the mouth that stays raw, doesn’t want to heal or a lump that’s an enlarged lymph node or may be other mass in the neck. Now lymph nodes will typically become enlarged temporarily after a throat infection and they are usually tender when that occurs, but a persistently enlarged lymph node, one that exist for about six weeks or so really should be evaluated further. And lymph nodes that are associated with cancer are usually painless,.
Rather than being tender to the touch. Haemoptysis or coughing up blood is always a very concerning symptom and that’s something that you’ve should definitely would be talked about with a physician. Dyspnea or shortness of breath can also be an indication of a throat cancer. Usually that won’t happen though until a tumor is actually quite large and is beginning to obstruct part of the breathing passage. Otalgia or ear pain with a normal ear exam is also a concerning symptom. It’s not very intuitive, but ear pain may actually be referred pain that’s coming.
From a lesion that’s in the larynx or the voice box or the back of the throat so if the ear looks normal and there’s persistent ear pain, that’s something that needs to be further evaluated. The primary risk factors associated with throat cancer are tobacco use, or alcohol abuse and tobacco use includes smoking or chewing tobacco and the combination of tobacco use and alcohol abuse is a very potent combination of risk factors for developing throat cancer. Other risk factors that we’re learning more about now are HPV or Human papillomavirus and even chronic acid reflux.
As far as preventive measures, our research here at the University of Michigan and the research of others have shown that fruit and vegetable intake is associated with a lower risk of developing throat cancer and better outcomes in patients who do develop cancers. Soy is also associated with a better outcome. Having said that though the key preventive steps for preventing throat cancer are don’t use tobacco and don’t abuse alcohol. Here at the University of Michigan we have a well established multidisciplinary head and neck oncology program for the evaluation and treatment of patients with head and neck cancer,.
And this includes a very active research on that’s exploring the fundamental biology of these lesions, as well as, new treatment modalities. A patient evaluation will typically begin with a referral by a primary care or other physician to an otolaryngologist head and neck surgeon commonly called an ear, nose and throat physician. The office evaluation includes a detail medical history, as well as, a complete head and neck examination and the exam will also typically involve an Esophagoscopy using an instrument like this to look in the back of the throat and down in the voice box.
This can be done very effectively and painless in the outpatient clinic. If there is a suspicious lesion seen on the exam typically a biopsy either in the operating room or possibly in the clinic will follow. Similar to other cancers the three main treatment modalities forehead and neck cancer are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, and particularly for more advanced lesions these treatments are often used in combination. Our institution has been a leader in the development of organ sparring treatments for head and neck cancer using chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
We also offer state of the art surgical treatment, reconstructive options and the all important rehabilitation after the cancer treatment itself is completed. Head and neck cancer is definitely a field where optimum outcomes require a well organized multidisciplinary treatment approach. We are very committed to compassionate individualize care that takes into account the specific patient, as well as, their tumor. This is another example of the Michigan difference. If you were to ask me for a few key points about throat cancer I would say number one, don’t use tobacco and don’t abuse alcohol.