The throat is a muscular tube that runs between our head and neck. It starts behind the nose and ends in the neck. Like any other area of the body, the throat is also susceptible to cancer. Throat cancer often begins in the flat cells inside the throat, which eventually turn into cancerous tumors in the throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), or tonsils.
While throat cancer is relatively rare, especially when compared to other cancers, it’s still something we should be aware of because it tends to grow quickly. Seeking treatment as early as possible provides the best chances at survival and a decent quality of life. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 1.2-percent of adults in the U.S. are estimated to have been diagnosed with oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers in their lifetime. Another o.3-percent of adults will be diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in their lifetime.
Here’s a look at everything to know about this cancer, including the symptoms, causes, and treatment options…
Types of Throat Cancer
There are several different types of throat cancer. All of them are defined by the development and growth of abnormal cells, but they can be categorized based on where they appear in the throat. This helps decide what will be the best and most effective treatment plan. WebMD explains that most throat cancers grow in the flat, thin cells lining the throat and voice box. However, there are other areas where cancerous tumors can grow.
The two primary types of throat cancer are squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma, says Healthline. These types can be further categorized as to where they occur, either in the pharyngeal or laryngeal area of the body. The pharynx is the hollow tube that runs from the nose to the top of the windpipe. Pharyngeal cancers may occur in the following areas:
- Nasopharynx: This type of cancer is rare in the U.S. It occurs in the upper part of the throat behind the nose.
- Oropharynx: Located behind the mouth. This cancer is likely to grow in the tonsils, back of the tongue, or soft palate.
- Hypopharynx: Narrow area behind the voice box.
The second category of throat cancer is laryngeal cancer which forms in the larynx (also known as the voice box).
Throat cancer can also occur in the glottics (holds the vocal cords), supraglottic (area above the glottis), or subglottic (area below the vocal cords and above the windpipe) area, adds the source.