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Throat cancer symptoms: Having this swallowing issue is a warning sign of the condition

Mayo Clinic said: “Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumours that develop in your throat, voice box or tonsils. Your throat is a muscular tube that begins behind your nose and ends in your neck. Throat cancer most often begins in the flat cells that line the inside of your throat. Your voice box sits just below your throat and also is susceptible to throat cancer. The voice box is made of cartilage and contains the vocal cords that vibrate to make sound when you talk. Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage that acts as a lid for your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils, which are located on the back of the throat.”


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Cancer in the throat is relatively uncommon in comparison to other cancers, however numbers of those being diagnosed with the deadly condition are rising.

Throat cancer develops when cells in the throat develop genetic mutations.

These mutations cause cells to grow uncontrollably and continue living after healthy cells would normally die. The accumulating cells can form a tumour in the throat.

Symptoms of the deadly condition include a cough, changes in the voice including hoarseness or not speaking clearly, a lump or sore that doesn’t heal and unexpected weight loss.

There is a warning sign in the way a person swallows which could signal throat cancer. What is it?

Having difficulty swallowing is an early warning sign of throat cancer.

Dr Jan Lewin from MD Anderson Cancer Center said: “The ability to swallow or to eat and drink what you enjoy most without choking or coughing is something that many of us take for granted.

“And most people never think about how they eat or drink until they experience dysphagia or trouble swallowing.

“Many people also believe that if their ability to swallow is compromised because of a cancer diagnosis or its treatment, it will simply get better after treatment is finished.

“Unfortunately, that is not always the case.”

What is dysphagia?

Dr Lewin explained: “Dysphagia is the medical term for having trouble swallowing.

“In cancer patients, it can be caused by the tumour itself which blocks or narrows the throat passage or as a side effect of treatment.

“It generally occurs because a tumour interferes with the ability of the lips, tongue, or throat muscles to move food around the mouth so that it can be chewed and passed to the oesophagus.

“In other cases, the tumour may block the throat so that food and/or liquid cannot pass through it.”


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Deciphering whether the difficulty swallowing will be permanent or temporary largely depends on the type of tumour, the size of it, the stage of the disease and what type of treatment a person may undergo.

Therefore, it’s important for a person to be vigilant with their symptoms to ensure the tumour doesn’t grow bigger and for earlier treatment.

If concerned about not getting enough nutrients due to the difficulty swallowing, a dietician can provide information on how to make sure one is still getting their nutritional needs met.

Throat cancer treatment

Mayo Clinic said: “Your treatment options are based on many factors, such as the location and stage of your throat cancer, the type of cells involved, your overall health and your personal preferences.

“Discuss the benefits and risks of each of your options with your doctor.

“Together you can determine what treatments will be the most appropriate for you.”

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  • Posted on April 6, 2020