6 Important Facts About Throat Cancer

Medically reviewed by John Paul Abrina, MD · Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Jul 06, 2022

    6 Important Facts About Throat Cancer

    Throat cancer is a general term that refers to cancer that develops in the throat and the voice box. The throat or the pharynx is a muscular tube that connects the back of your nose and your neck. The voice box or larynx is made of cartilages that contain the vocal cords, which vibrate to produce the sound when you talk. Read on to learn important, potentially life-saving facts about throat cancer.

    Throat Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

    Remember these Facts About Throat Cancer

    1. Changes in speech is one of its symptoms

    One of the most important facts about throat cancer is that its symptoms may be unnoticeable at first.

    The signs and symptoms that a patient has throat cancer may include:

    • Cannot speak clearly or the voice changes
    • A cough
    • Ear pain
    • Sore throat
    • Weight loss
    • A sore or lump that does not heal

    2. The cause is largely unknown

    Throat cancer can develop when the cells in the throat develop a genetic mutation.

    The origin of these mutations is still unknown, but it causes the cells to continue growing and living even after the point where healthy cells would commonly die. The accumulation of these cells forms a tumor in the throat.

    The fact that its cause is largely unknown makes it all important to know facts about throat cancer we often overlook.

    3. Healthier lifestyle choices can reduce our risk

    The risk factors of throat cancer may include:

    So it’s crucial to give up harmful habits and boost our overall health through proper diet and preventing other infections.

    4. Treatment depends on progression

    Depending on the stage or extent of the cancer, your overall health, your location and personal preference, there are appropriate treatments for your throat cancer such as:

    Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy uses X-rays and protons to produce radiation that could cause cancer cells to die. This type of therapy can still be used on throat cancers that haven’t spread to the lymph nodes yet.

    A combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or surgery may be needed for more advanced conditions. Radiation therapy may also reduce signs and symptoms of throat cancer and make it more manageable.


    The cancer stage and its location in your throat may be considered when it comes to the type of surgical procedure you will have to undergo. Your options for surgical procedures may include:

    • Surgical procedure for minor throat cancer (cancers that haven’t reached the lymph nodes yet)
    • Surgery to remove a part or the entire voice box (laryngectomy)
    • Surgical procedures to remove a part of the throat (pharyngectomy)
    • Surgery to detach cancerous lymph nodes (neck dissection)


    This procedure uses drugs to eliminate cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often used alongside radiation therapy in most throat cancer treatments.

    Several drugs used in chemotherapy force cancer cells to react to radiation therapy, making it easier to eliminate. However, using both methods may result in increased side effects.

    Targeted Drug Therapy

    This method uses medication to attack certain defects of the cancer cells to stop its growth. Targeted drugs may be used on its own or along radiation therapy or chemotherapy.


    Cancer cells tend to mislead your body’s disease-fighting immune system by producing proteins to avoid an attack. Immunotherapy interferes with this process and uses your immune system to fight cancer. This method is reserved for patients with advanced cancer stage and is not responding to other treatments.

    5. There is no surefire way to prevent throat cancer

    There is still no proven prevention of throat cancer but you can reduce the risk and symptoms of throat cancer by:

    • Not smoking
    • Drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all
    • Keeping a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables
    • Protecting yourself from HPV (Human Papillomavirus) which is a sexually transmitted infection.

    6. Specialized medical care is needed during recovery and rehabilitation

    Managing the symptoms of throat cancer and the side effects of cancer treatments will not be an easy job. Some of the treatments will help lessen the symptoms of throat cancer but will leave complications.

    Oftentimes, it requires help from a specialist in order to regain certain abilities like swallowing or talking. After each treatment, your doctor may let you seek help from specialists for:

    • Eating difficulties
    • Speech problems
    • Difficulty in swallowing
    • Pain and stiffness of the neck
    • Care for the stoma (surgical opening in your throat) for patients who had tracheotomy

    Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy are aggressive methods that can have lasting side effects on the patient.

    To help patients and also their family cope with the symptoms of throat cancer and its treatments, they can use extra support from palliative or supportive care.

    It is specialized medical care that can provide relief from pain and symptoms of throat cancer or other serious illness. Palliative care is used alongside treatments to improve the life of cancer patients and their family. This is provided by a team of trained professionals, doctors and nurses.

    Key Takeaways

    Cancer is a terrifying and painful disease. Although numerous medical breakthroughs have been made throughout the years, there is no definitive cure or vaccine that can prevent it yet. However, there are treatment options available that can alleviate symptoms and put cancer into remission.

    The never-ending support of friends and family is really important during cancer treatment. Recovering from cancer treatments may require more therapies so it is important to motivate and support the patient until he or she fully recovers.

    Throat cancer can be treatable and manageable with early diagnosis and proper treatments. Share these facts about throat cancer with your family and friends. Always choose a healthy lifestyle and take the necessary precautions to help lower your risk of getting sick.

    Learn more about cancer, here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    John Paul Abrina, MD

    Oncology · Davao Doctors Hospital

    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Jul 06, 2022


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