The National Cancer Institute estimates that there are around 25,000 new cases of throat cancer each year, with more than 5,000 deaths. While that may not sound like much given the population of the US, it's a lot considering many forms of throat cancer are preventable.
Throat cancer affects the pharynx (the main part of your throat), the nasopharynx (upper throat behind the nose) and the larynx (voice box). There are many symptoms to look out for, including:
- Persistent coughing
- Hoarseness or other voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear pain
- A lump or sore that doesn't heal
If you have symptoms that don't go away, you should see your Atlanta-based doctor. When making the appointment, ask if there are things you should do in advance, such as restricting your diet. Write down any symptoms you're dealing with, even if they seem like they aren't related to the problem that's caused you to make the appointment. Appointments can be brief, and there's often a ton of ground to cover. Preparing for your appointment will give your doctor all the necessary information to make the right decisions.
Tips on avoiding throat cancer
Eat your greens and your yellows and reds, too. Evidence suggests that a diet well stocked in fruits and vegetables can fight off throat cancer. They have natural protection antioxidants that are known to destroy cancer causing agents and cancer cells. Plus, fruits and vegetables have plenty of fiber and help you maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight or obese is linked to a variety of cancers.
Protect yourself against Human Papillomavirus. The Mayo Clinic recommends that people who are sexually active use condoms because they may lower the risk of HPV infection and diseases that are caused by HPV, such as genital warts and cervical cancer. You can protect your kids as well; there are now HPV vaccines for kids which can protect against some of the most harmful strains of this virus.
Don't smoke or drink. You've probably heard this a million times, but here's something you may not know: The tissues in your mouth are delicate. Alcohol makes it easier for these tissues to absorb the chemicals in tobacco that are known to cause cancer. People who smoke and drink have much higher rates of this particular cancer.