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Simple Facts About Throat Cancer

Updated on May 30, 2013

Esophageal cancer

Esophageal cancer or throat cancer to the simple layman affects the head or neck area, specifically the esophagus. The esophagus is part of the digestive system responsible for the movement of food from the mouth to the stomach. This is characterized by a long and narrow tube connecting the mouth and throat to the intestines. Lesions or cancers may occur in any part of this tube. Often, 90% of the cancers of this kind are caused by squamous cell carcinomas often originating from the mocusal lining of the area.

Throat cancer commonly affects men in ages over 50. According to the MayoClinic, it is more prevalent in Asia and in some parts of Africa than the United States. The disease is diagnosed in the later stages since symptoms are often ignored. Once diagnosed, treatment depends on the stage of the disease. If the cancer has not yet spread to the other parts of the body, surgery may still be an option. If the cancer cells has already spread, the treatment will be focused on the management of the complications and symptoms.

Based on the type of esophageal cells affected and location of the malignant in the esophagus, there are two categories of esophageal cancer. One is caused by squamos cell carcinoma and the other is adenocarcinoma. Squamos cell carcinoma is often related to alcohol consumption, smoking, chewing tobacco and bile influx. The other, adenocarcinoma is often linked with Barrets esophagus, a condition caused by gastroesophageal influx disease (GER) and is seen to affect men in general, and is located along the lower end portion of the esophagus.

Risk factors

People who are considered high risk are exposed to a variety of risk factors which may include obesity, smoking and drinking alcohol. The intake hot beverages can cause thermal injury to the esophagus which can also be a factor in the development of throat cancer.


The first common symptoms of throat cancer is pain and difficulty in swallowing. This is often caused by a tumor growth or lesion in the corresponding throat area. Other symptoms may also occur such as food regurgitation, frequent choking when eating, unexplainable weight loss, difficulty in swallowing food, vomiting, and heartburn. The symptoms may occur in different combinations, and sometimes, it is often dismissed by the sufferer.


Several complications may occur when throat cancer arises with other known conditions in the patient. If a person suffering from esophageal cancer has a previous case of pneumonia, it can be deadly if not diagnosed properly. This occurs because a tumor in the esophagus will cause or force down the food and liquid into the windpipe. This will often lead to aspiration pneumonia due when an infection develops in the patient's lungs.


To reduce the risk of throat cancer, a healthy lifestyle should be followed. The taking of harmful substances from alcohol, and even smoking should be avoided. If avoidable, avoid the frequent intake of hot beverages as this will largely affect the throat and surrounding areas. Apart from this, the taking of highly strong leaves and nuts or bettle common in some cultures are seen also as another possible risk factor. The substances from such can largely irritate the throat lining.

MInimize conduct that will affect the normal functioning of the throat or encourage the development of throat tumors. Lifestyle modification is largely encourage to those who are in the habit of drinking alcohol and smoking. These vices will definitely lead to other dangerous complications apart from throat cancer.

Throat cancer is often diagnosed in the later stages and death often follows quickly when complications set in. Upon diagnosis, some will barely survive a year or less. Noted personalities who succumbed to this rare cancer include writer Christopher Hitchens who died a few years back due to complications with pneumonia. Hitchens was diagnosed with the cancer only six months before. Know more about this silent disease and learn to value health.


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