What are the typical first warning signs of throat cancer in a smoker?
Thank you for your question. The throat can be medically divided into the pharynx and larynx. The pharynx is broadly divided into three parts:
- Nasopharynx (the area at the back of your nose)
- Oropharynx (the area behind your mouth)
- Hypopharynx (the throat area just around and above the voice box)
The larynx, is the voice box which sits on the top of the windpipe (trachea). It is responsible for voice production and helps protect to the windpipe (trachea) and lungs.
When a doctor use the word "throat cancer" it is quite likely that he or she is referring to cancer arising from either the oropharynx, hypopharynx and larynx. Cancer from the nasopharynx is often called "nose cancer" or "back of nose cancer".
Common symptoms of throat cancer include:
- Prolonged sore throat
- Feeling of something stuck in the throat
- Frequent throat clearing
- Hoarse voice
- Blood in the phlegm or saliva
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain
- Loss of weight and appetite
- Neck lumps
- Difficulty breathing
- High-pitched noisy breathing (Stridor)
While early and late stage throat cancer can often present with any of symptoms 1-9, neck lumps, difficulty breathing and noisy breathing (stridor) usually indicates a more advanced stage. The main risk factors for throat cancer are cigarette smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, certain viruses and genetic predisposition.
If you have any of symptoms 1-9 lasting more than 2-3 weeks or any symptoms 10-12, you should visit an ENT Specialist for further assessment.
Hope this helps and all the best!
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