Our ability to speak in clear and distinct languages is what sets up apart from other animals. Which is why laryngeal cancer is usually more devastating to us than other forms, as it can take away our ability to speak.
What Is Laryngeal Cancer?
Many people who get the cancer want to try understanding laryngeal cancer. Simply put, the cancer is a disease that happens in the area of the throat where the vocal chords and the voice box are located.
There are certain people who are at a risk for this form of cancer more than others. Smokers and users to tobacco will find themselves at a much higher risk for the disease than others do. Chain smokers are among the top of the people who get diagnosed with the cancer. Apart from them, people who frequently drink alcohol are also at a higher risk of the cancer. Other risk factors have not been proven as of yet, but still show up during the diagnosis. HPV infection of the throat as well increased incidences of acid reflux in the body may be the key to understanding laryngeal cancer and the risks involved.
What Are Laryngeal Cancer Symptoms?
Much like other cancers, the kind of symptoms being displayed by laryngeal cancer are similar to common afflictions of the body part. In this case, the symptoms are similar to having a throat infection at any given point of time. Since the initial stage symptoms are not very clear, catching the cancer before it spreads is a difficult task. Some of the main symptoms for understanding laryngeal cancer are:
Sore Throat – Usually the first signs of a cough, cold or throat infections happens to be the soreness of the throat. People all around the world are subject to this once in the year, especially if exposed to others with the same infection. However, such infections usually get cured within a week and the sore throat does not last for more than two or three days after that. If you have had a sore throat for more than six weeks, which has been accompanied by troubles in swallowing food, you should definitely think about consulting a doctor.
Hoarse Voice – Since the laryngeal cancer sits directly on the voice box, it is natural that the tumors will affect the vocal cords as well. A hoarse voice that comes with a throat infection is common enough and clears up within a few days. But when it comes to understanding laryngeal cancer, symptoms start to vary a little. The voice is not only strained and raspy, it feels like an effort to keep it strong and unwavering. If these changes are dramatic like those seen during the time of puberty, it is definitely a sign of something not being quite right.
Sinus Afflictions – Sinusitis is quite common in the population of the world. Which is why it becomes harder to differentiate between a particularly harsh attack or the initial stages of laryngeal cancer. For most part, the symptoms remain the same. Patients will find themselves afflicted with earaches for a major part of the day, along with headaches and even some trouble in breathing clearly. If the symptoms persists for much long than your usual sinus problems, definitely go in for a quick check up. When it comes to understanding laryngeal cancer, no precaution is too small.
Lumps In The Neck – Certain lumps being formed in the neck, near the voice box can be a cause for concern when understanding laryngeal cancer. At times it will happen simply because of the sore throat, but it is one symptom that should be checked out as soon as possible. Lumps in the neck followed to unexplained weight loss and an enlarged lymph gland can be the first positive signs of having cancer. Diagnosis of the cancer is quite important in the initial stages, as many doctors may miss it due to the still small and barely noticeable nature of the cancer.
How Does One Treat Laryngeal Cancers?
The treatment of the cancer begins with the diagnosis. Once you have experienced symptoms that can cause worry, the next step is booking an appointment with your doctor. After an initial check up to rule out other causes, there are a number of physical exams that can be conducted. First of these is the laryngoscopy, which is the best for understanding laryngeal cancer within a day. There are two kinds, indirect and direct.
Indirect laryngoscopy takes place with the help of a long handled mirror. The doctor conducting the examination with usually place the mirror inside your throat and close enough to the larynx in order to see the entire area. One of the first checks performed is if the vocal cords are responding naturally when making certain sounds and noises. If there is cause for concern, the tests can go further. Depending on the gag reflex of the patient, the examination can be done with or without local anesthesia and can be done in a matter of minutes.
Direct laryngoscopy takes place with the help of a laryngoscope. It is done with the help of local anesthesia where a tube is put through the nose or the mouth to the throat. The tube sent in is lighted and gives a better visual of the area. When understanding laryngeal cancer, these tests usually lead to a biopsy, if there is cause for concern.
A biopsy takes place when the doctor finds results in the laryngoscopy that are not clear or signify a possibility of cancer. In this process, small pieces of tissue are removed from the body part in question. These are then tested and checked for the growth of any cancer cells. Tissue samples are often removed with the help of the laryngoscope and can be done rather quickly. General anesthesia is required for the procedure, however. Once the tissue is collected, a pathologist will examine it and declare whether cancer cells exist. As of now, it is a sure shot way of diagnosing and understanding laryngeal cancer.
Once the cancer has been confirmed, then it is time for the treatment to begin. If the patient is suffering from the initial stages of the cancer or has benign tumors, then surgery and radiation therapy are two of the best options available. These have a 90% chance of full recovery when utilized in the initial stages. For those who have advanced stage cancer, a cocktail of treatments has seen to work out quite well, giving them a 60% chance of recovery. Depending on the health of the patient and the positioning of the cancer, the treatment can be decided.
A part of understanding laryngeal cancer is deciding how to proceed when treating it. If you have chosen surgery as the way to go, then you should understand how it will affect your body. A surgeon will either remove only the affected part of the larynx or the entire larynx at one go. If the tumor is benign and in the form of polyps, only the polyps can be removed. Depending on how long you have for recovery and your general health status, you can decide which is more suitable for you. Otherwise, you can opt for the radiation therapy, which kills the cancer through high energy rays.
Finally, patients can opt for chemotherapy. It is usually reserved for those with later stages of cancer and is combined with radiation therapy. There are a number of side effects to the treatment and can leave patients drained after it has finished. However, as a part of understanding laryngeal cancer, it is one treatment that should be considered.