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Throat Cancers

The Basics of Throat Cancer



Anatomy

Understanding the Anatomy In the most basic sense, the throat starts in the area behind the nose (nasal cavity) and mouth (oral cavity). It extends down to the opening of the breathing tube (trachea) and the feeding tube (esophagus).

Causes

Causes of Throat Cancer As with most cancers, doctors can’t tell you with certainty what causes throat cancer. It’s a combination of genetic factors and factors in your environment. By far the most common factor contributing to throat cancer is using tobacco, particularly smoking it. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol also contributes to the risk […]

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Throat Cancer Since throat cancer is such a general term for cancers in many different locations, the signs and symptoms are fairly broad. A cancer in the nasopharynx (behind the nose) will probably have different symptoms than a cancer in the larynx (the voice box). There are certainly some similarities, but […]

Doctor’s Visit

What to Expect at Your Doctor’s Visit Step 1: History First, your head and neck specialist will take a thorough history of your health and address any specific concerns you may have. Your doctor might ask questions such as: How long has the problem been there? Is it getting worse, better or staying the same? […]

Diagnosis

Diagnosing Throat Cancer Getting to a diagnosis begins with a history and physical examination. If the symptoms haven’t been present for very long, or if the history and physical examination make the doctor less suspicious that your lesion is cancer, your doctor might try some medications and rehabilitation before jumping to a diagnosis of cancer. […]

Type of Cancer

Determining the Type of Throat Cancer Almost all throat cancers are squamous cell carcinomas. These are tumors that start from cancer cells on the surface lining of the throat. There are a number of different types and classifications of squamous cell carcinomas that you can talk to your doctor about. Squamous cell carcinoma: These are […]

Grade of the Tumor

Determining the Grade of the Tumor Pathologists will typically report on the grade of the tumor. This is a qualitative interpretation by the pathologist of how much the cancerous cells resemble normal tissue from that site. There are a number of different grading systems that might be used. The most common is as follows: GX: […]

Stage of the Cancer

Determining the Stage of the Cancer The final step before discussing treatment options is a determination of the stage of the cancer. As with all cancers of the head and neck, doctors in the U.S. use the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (7th Ed) to determine the stage based on three factors. Factors that go into […]

Treatment Plan

Deciding on a Treatment Plan Your doctors will typically use National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers, as well as their own professional experience, to decide on the appropriate treatment course. If these guidelines are not followed, they will discuss it with you and explain why […]

Prognosis

Determining Your Prognosis Your prognosis is a prediction of the outcome of your disease. What is the risk of succumbing to the cancer or the risk of its coming back? These are the big questions on most people’s minds after receiving a diagnosis of throat cancer. Prognosis is based on many factors, and a survival […]

After Treatment

What to Expect After Treatment is Completed Once you have made it through treatment, you need to have close follow-up with your doctor. The current NCCN Guidelines® for Head and Neck Cancers recommend this follow-up plan after being treated for a throat cancer: Visit your head and neck specialist on a regular schedule (or earlier if […]

References
References

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12 Referenced with permission from The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Head and Neck Cancers V.2.2016. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc 2016. All rights reserved. Accessed December 7, 2016. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to www.nccn.org.