It has been estimated that around 24,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with throat cancer each year. Half of these cancers occur in the larynx while the other half occur in the pharynx.
Those who develop throat cancer are often smokers. Drinking in excess also increases the risk for this disease. When you combine the two—smoking and drinking, the risk goes even higher. Those who are 50 and over have the highest risk, with men 10 times more likely than women to develop this cancer.
Diagnosis for throat cancer is a comprehensive process, but early symptoms can be noticed when a patient begins having problems with their teeth; specifically teeth pain. Once a person senses that pain from their teeth is unusual and lasts for a long time, then it’s time to consult with a dentist. Once an appointment has been made, the dentist will gather a medical history of the patient. Then, an otorhinolaryngologist is sought out for further diagnosis. The ortorhinolaryngologist will then examine the throat, using a small mirror. For a further examination of the throat, a tissue sample will be taken.
Throat cancer begins on the lining of the throat. Then, the throat cancer begins spreading rapidly beyond the line surface of the throat. Next, to find out how far the cancer has spread, the physician will take an x-ray. The x-ray that will be done if throat cancer is suspected will contain an image of the mouth, head and chest in one-dimension.
The throat cancer diagnosis process continues with (CT), computer tomography. With this scan, the internal organs can be seen with a two-dimensional image, showing the internal organs, organs that cannot be seen by a general x-ray scan.
Next comes the (MRI), Magnetic resonance imaging. With this scan, the entire area of cancer in the throat can be examined. The MRI can also disclose the lymph nodes in the cancer and produce an image that can be viewed from all directions.
The ultrasound is the next step in diagnosing throat cancer. This scan is used to locate the nature and precise size of the cancer. The ultrasound image is produced by combining high-frequency sound wave and computer processing.
Then, the (PET), Positron emission tomography is used to find the tumor in the body by using a small amount of radioactive tracer. Positron emission tomography finds the tumor when the tissues of the body consume the radioactive tracer when it is placed inside the body, because the tumor will also absorb the tracer.
There are four stages of throat cancer:
- Stage I: This stage means that the cancer has not spread; that it is in the same area where it was found. At this time the cancer may not be severe.
- Stage II: The cancer is still in the same area where it began but it has grown.
- Stage III: In this stage the cancer has spread out to areas nearby and its effect is now being felt. The symptoms of this cancer are now easily found.
- Stage IV: In this stage the cancer has grown into a larger shape and has spread a great deal and needs immediate treatment and care.
- Stage IV: In this stage the cancer is grown into a large shape and is spreading extensively. This stage requires immediate treatment.
To conclude, should anyone suspect throat cancer, it would be wise to first consult a dentist and have an x-ray taken. Then, if the dentist suspects throat cancer, he or she will offer suggestions on the above steps and referrals that will be needed to complete a comprehensive diagnosis.