Investigation of personal and family medical history
Your doctor is likely to ask you about your personal and family medical history. This will help him/her evaluate whether your present symptoms may be an underlying cause of other personal or genetic disorders. Make sure that you take your medical documents of doctors’ prescriptions and medical tests for your doctor to analyse them closely.
Drug and Medication History
You can also expect your doctor to investigate about the drugs that you might be taking presently or in the recent past. While the doctor would be able to access the history of prescribed medications from your prescriptions, you have to inform him/her about other drugs that you might be taking now or have taken recently. These medications include non-prescription or OTC (over-the-counter) drugs, herbals, vitamins, and supplements.
There are certain drugs that may have adverse side effects and lead to the development of symptoms that you are experiencing now. Hence, it is essential for your doctor to investigate your medications to analyse whether these may interact with your present symptoms. Based on his/her medical evaluation, he/she will suggest some diagnostic tests.
Computer tomography or CAT scan is an imaging test that produces more images of internal organs than an ordinary X-ray. This often proves to be more effective in detecting cancer.
Magnetic resonance imaging is also a non-invasive procedure like a CT scan. This makes the use of radio waves and strong magnets to create two-dimensional images of organs. These imaging tests are essential for finding the exact location of the tumour (if any) and detect the extent of metastasis. It is also capable of identifying the stage of cancer and whether the tumour can be surgically removed.
If the imaging tests find abnormalities, the doctor may recommend a biopsy of the throat. This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves collecting a small part of tissue from the affected site for further analysis. This is usually effective in confirming the prevalence of cancer.
The treatment is determined by various factors like the age of the patient, personal medical history, extent of the cancer, etc.
The treatment options are:
Radiation therapy: This is effective in destroying cancer cells and soothing pain when the cancer is in the early stages.
Surgery: This is another line of treatment that the doctor can suggest in the early stages of the medical condition. Surgical intervention may involve partial or complete removal of the organ or tissue in which the cancer has originated. This inhibits the cancer from metastasising to other organs.
Surgery, if advised in the later stages, involves complete removal of the larynx or pharynx. Below are the types of surgeries for cancer of the throat, differing on the basis of the origin of the abnormal cells:
- Laryngectomy – Surgical removal, partial or complete, of the larynx is called laryngectomy, the most common type of surgery for throat cancer.
- Pharyngectomy – Surgical removal of a part or the entire pharynx is called pharyngectomy.
- Neck dissection – This surgery can be required if the cancer has metastasised to the lymph nodes, located beyond the larynx and pharynx. In this surgery, the lymph nodes believed to be affected by cancer are surgically removed. Radiation therapy may be conducted after the surgery to destroy remaining cancer cells.