Throat cancer involves a cancer of the larynx or voice box, the vocal cords and other tissues of the throat. It is much more common in smokers who develop hoarseness when the cancer first begins.

The causes of throat cancer include tobacco use of any kind, including chewing tobacco, pipe smoking, cigarette smoking and cigar smoking. It is a disease that is also related to excessive use of alcohol and the combined use of tobacco and alcohol increase the risk immensely. Most sufferers of throat cancer are greater than fifty years of age and Men are ten times more likely to develop throat cancer than women.

Symptoms of throat cancer include having a cough or coughing up blood. It can also include whistling or high pitched breath sounds due to airway narrowing. There can be difficulty swallowing and hoarseness that lasts longer than two weeks. Neck pain is common and a sore throat doesn't get better in one to two weeks is also common. Antibiotics do not take care of the sore throat. There can be swelling or inflamed lymph nodes of the neck and a weight loss which is unintentional.

Doctors can test for cancer of the throat by examining the neck and throat on the outside and by using a laryngoscope which directly looks at the larynx by going through the mouth with a lighted camera. They look for bloody phlegm or sputum and lumps on the outside of the neck. A biopsy can be done via the laryngoscope and a CT scan of the head can show a cancerous lesion. An MRI can be done alternatively to the CT scan. When a biopsy is done, the tissue is looked at under the microscope to see what type of laryngeal cancer it is.

The treatment of laryngeal carcinoma is to remove the cancer completely through surgery so that it doesn't spread to other body areas. Small tumours can be treated with surgery alone or with radiotherapy alone. If the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes or is enlarged, radiation and chemotherapy are added to the treatment regimen to maximize survival rate. Sometimes the entire vocal cords must be removed, leading to difficulty speaking and the need to use speech therapy to learn to speak again. Swallowing therapy must also be used to learn to be able to swallow without difficulty.

Throat cancers are curable in 90 percent of cases if it is detected early. If it has spread to surrounding tissues in the throat, only about 50-60 percent of patients are curable. If the cancer has metastasized to other body areas such as the lungs or liver, it is not curable and the treatment is based solely on trying to lengthen your life and to improve the quality of your life. Generally, people do well with speech therapy and swallowing therapy but about five percent of patients will need a feeding tube because they cannot safely and effectively swallow.

There are several complications of having throat or laryngeal cancer. These include blockage of the airways, leading to problems breathing. There can be problems swallowing and a disfigurement of the face or the neck from surgery or radiation therapy. The skin of the face can harden due to radiation therapy on facial tissue. A loss of voice is common and it is common to need assistive devices to speak. Metastasis of the laryngeal tissue is also a common complication of throat cancer.

If you have hoarseness or a change in your voice that lasts longer than three weeks or a lump in your neck that lasts longer than two weeks, you need to seek medical attention. The loss of voice or hoarseness is the most common first symptom.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our throat cancer solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme which is totally without risk. You only pay legal charges if the case is won. There are no upfront charges to pay whatsoever. If you would like to discuss your potential compensation claim with a specialist medical negligence solicitor just complete the contact form or email our solicitors offices or use the helpline. Once you have provided sufficient information you will speak with a throat cancer solicitor who will advise you on the prospects of success for your claim and an estimated amount of compensation that may be awarded. Our advice is totally without cost and there is no further obligation to use our legal services. Do yourself justice and give us a call.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here