Throat cancer is a catchall term for a variety of head and neck cancers that are a squamous cell type of carcinoma. Throat cancer usually starts out as a tumor that begins developing within the tissue linings of hollow organs. Squamous cells have a propensity to rapidly multiply, and in the process they kill off the healthy cells of the host.
Cancer of the head and neck usually begins as a malignant growth originating in the lip and areas such as the oral and nasal cavity, the larynx, pharynx and thyroid, as well as the sinuses, salivary glands and the lymph nodes in the neck. In time this type of cancer will lead to the death of the patient, unless the progression of the disease is slowed or stopped all together.
Tobacco use, in the form of smoking, chewing and dipping, and alcohol use is the primary cause of most head and neck cancers, which infers that most cases of this type of cancer could have been prevented by not using these agents. Another carcinogenic agent that causes this type of cancer is the chewing of beetle-nut, which is popular in parts of Asia. Beetle-nut comes from the betel palm and is used for its narcotic effect. When chewed over a long period of time, the teeth turn black. It is used in much the same way that men and women around the world use chewing tobacco and dip. Of every 3 percent of new cases of head and neck cancer in the United States annually, 2 percent of those will end in the death of the patient.
“Despite improvements in diagnosis and local management, long-term survival rates in head and neck cancer have not increased significantly over the past 40 years and are among the lowest worldwide of the major cancers. The problem is even worse for select populations such as African Americans, for whom survival rates have actually decreased. Oropharyngeal cancer, the largest subgroup of head and neck cancers, has a 5-year relative survival rate of only 59% for United States whites and 35% for blacks.”
If caught early, some forms of head and neck cancers-especially the oral cavity and larnx-are successful in being cured; however, approximately 60 percent of head and neck cancers will not be diagnosed in time and will advance to the point that they cannot be cured.
The treatment of head and neck cancers is dependent on the severity and extent of the tumor growth, the over-all health and stability of the patient, his/her level of nutrition. The patient has much to decide, whether treatment is a viable option.
If the cancer is diagnosed at stage I or II, ( without regional metastisis ) many times surgery is the option. This type of surgery is called a radical face, or radical neck, or a combination of the two depending on the primary location of the tumor/s. In stages III and IV ( cancers with regional metastisis ), a combination of surgery and radiation, and chemotherapy may be in order.
The radical face and neck surgery consists of excising the tumor and much of the surrounding facial and neck structures that are cancerous. The patient, if he/she survives, may want to have plastic surgery after healing from the radical surgery, because much of the face and neck is gone.
It is my hope that people will become educated early on about the hazards of tobacco use in any form, that it is not only smokers who are prone to develop cancer, but also the habit of chewing and dipping can and does lead to head and neck cancer, in most cases a preventable disease.
Work Cited: Article on throat cancer from Wikipedia encyclopedia