Throat cancer can form anywhere in the upper, middle or lower part of the throat. It is relatively rare but there are known increase risks of developing the disease in workers who have been exposed to certain chemicals and substances, such as asbestos and coal dust.
Cancer is a class of diseases in which abnormal cells multiply and divide uncontrollably in the body. These abnormal cells form malignant growths called tumors. Throat cancer refers to cancer of the voice box, the vocal cords, and other parts of the throat, such as the tonsils and the oropharynx.
Throat cancer is often grouped into two categories: pharyngeal cancer, which forms in the pharynx (the hollow tube that runs from behind your nose to the top of your windpipe) and laryngeal cancer, which forms in the larynx (your voice box).
The larynx is part of the throat found at the entrance of the windpipe (trachea). It plays an important role in helping you breathe and speak. In the UK, there are about 2,400 new cases of laryngeal cancer each year. The condition is more common in people over the age of 60. It's about four times more common in men than women.
The main symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:
- a change in your voice, such as sounding hoarse
- pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing
- a lump or swelling in your neck
- a long-lasting cough
- a persistent sore throat or earache
- in severe cases, difficulty breathing
Some people may also experience bad breath, breathlessness, a high-pitched wheezing noise when breathing, unexplained weight loss, or fatigue (extreme tiredness). Your risk of getting the condition is increased by exposure to certain chemicals and substances, such as asbestos and coal dust