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Important Facts About Throat Cancer Treatment

  By posted Sep 6th 2014
Healthy Living


Throat Cancer


Throat cancer is the cancer of the throat; it is a type of head and neck cancer.  The throat (pharynx) is a 5-inch-long tube that runs from your nose to your neck. The throat and the voice box are the two main places throat cancer forms.

Throat Cancer, which is usually caused by excessive use of tobacco or alcohol, affects a person’s vocal cords, voice box (larynx), or other areas of the throat.Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that acts as a lid for your windpipe.

Managing Throat Cancer

•    Find it, as early as possible
•    Confirm Diagnosis (radiology and pathology)
•    Surgery (cut it out)
•    Radiation (burn it)
•    Chemotherapy (selective poisoning)
•    Combine the above


Strategy in Diagnosing Throat Cancer

•    Determine exact location of throat cancer lesion
•    Find out the extent of spread of throat cancer - local, regional and systemic
•    Confirm throat cancer with the diagnosis with  histo-pathological  investigation like biopsy
•    Ascertain the patient’s fitness to undergo treatment
•    Use a multi-modality approach if necessary to treat the disease, using:

  1.     Surgical removal of the diseased part of body
  2.     Loco-regional control of disease with radiation
  3.     Systemic control of disease with Chemotherapy


•    Giving Patient the best quality of life possible with rehabilitation measures
•    Regular monitoring for any recurrence of disease


Tests for Throat Cancer

•    Patient’s general fitness
•    Radiological investigations for determining the extent of disease and staging
•    Biopsy is required for diagnosis
•    Performed in operation theater with patient under anesthesia
•    Other potentially required tests:

  1.     Direct laryngoscopy
  2.     Bronchoscopy
  3.     Esophagoscopy
  4.     Chest X-ray
  5.     CT or MRI
  6.     Liver function tests with or without US

 

Staging for Throat Cancer

Stage 1 and 2
Mild, usually curable.  Radiation therapy followed by surgery if necessary

Stage 3
Chances the cancer has spread are high. Radiotherapy alongside chemotherapy.  Surgery usually precedes radiotherapy, but not always.

Stage 4
Can be treated but not likely curable.  Same treatment as Stage 3. mostly palliative.
Surgery and Side Effects in Throat Cancer

 

Throat Cancer Treatment: Surgery
Surgery is done on throat cancer patients to remove the malignant tumor. Depending on the throat cancer, surgery is not always used. Recently good reconstruction options are available with plastic surgery

Side Effects
1.    Scarring on the patient. Physically and emotionally
2.    Soreness
3.    Bedridden
4.    Unable to perform physical activities for various lengths of time
Throat Cancer Treatment


Throat Cancer Treatment:Chemotherapy and Side Effects
Drugs taken to kill the cancer (Via pills or injection)
Achieves systemic control

Side Effects:
•    Nausea and vomiting,
•    Loss of hair,
•    Decreased immunity
•    Various non specific complaints


Throat Cancer Treatment:Radiation Therapy and Side Effects
High energy X-Rays to kill cells (External Beam Radiation Therapy)
Placing radioisotopes on the affected area. (as beads or thin needles)

Side Effects

  1.     Fatigue,
  2.     Dry skin,
  3.     Discolored skin,
  4.     Itching, nausea and vomiting,
  5.     Loss of hair,
  6.     Local skin discolorationion

 

Prevention Of Throat Cancer

•    Avoid tobacco in all its forms
•    Stop all smoking (causes more cancer deaths than any other factor)
•    Avoid very hot or spicy food
•    Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation
•    Avoid alcohol
•    Get medical attention on the slightest suspicion

*Inputs: Dr Anil Heroor, Oncosurgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mulund
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images

 

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