Let’s discus the common and not so common neck cancer symptoms.
Neck cancer could occur in the pharynx, larynx, oropharynx or the Hypopharynx. Pharynx is a 5 to 6 inch hollow pipe and starts behind the nose and extends to the oesophagus. It enables the passage of food through its lumen. Larynx is also called as the voice box and contains the vocal cords and helps in phonation. The oropharynx is the part of the pharynx which connects the pharynx to the top of the throat. Hypopharynx is a part of the pharynx that is present behind and on either sides of the larynx.
Neck cancer is more common in men and commonly affects people over the age of 50 years. Tobacco and alcohol use are the most common cause of oral and throat cancer. Eighty five percent of neck cancers are caused due to tobacco or alcohol usage. Those using tobacco and alcohol are at a higher risk of developing neck cancer as against those using either one of them. Nasopharynx cancers are more common among those of Asian origin, those suffering from Epstein Barr Virus infection, occupational exposure to wood dust etc. Oropharynx cancers are caused due to poor oral hygiene and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) infection. A condition called Plummer Vinson or Paterson Kelly syndrome is a rare disorder characterized by severe anaemia and leads to development of oesophageal webs in the upper oesophagus and is risk factor for Hypopharyngeal Cancers. Laryngeal cancers are common amongst people exposed to asbestos particles.
You may be suffering from neck cancer if you have symptoms like a lump or a sore that does not heal over a long period of time, a sore throat which is not relieved inspite of medications, difficulty in swallowing and a change or hoarse voice. Oropharynx and hypopharynx cancers might present with ear pain. Nasopharyngeal cancers present with difficulty in breathing or talking, pain in the ears, difficulty in hearing or frequent headaches. Cancers in the larynx could cause pain when swallowing, change in voice or even ear pain.
More symptoms of neck cancer…
If you notice any of the symptoms which could suggest neck cancer you must visit your doctor at the earliest. Your doctor will require you to give a detailed history of your complaints, and will enquire about any habits like tobacco or alcohol use, and any other risk factor like occupational exposure etc. The doctor will conduct a detailed physical examination to check you oral cavity, throat and nose. Laryngoscopy is a procedure which is useful to detect any laryngeal tumours. It involves the use of a laryngoscope to inspect the larynx and vocal cords. Depending on your symptoms the doctor may or may not advice you to undergo Oesophagogastroscopy. With this procedure the doctor is able to inspect the passage of your oesophagus and visualize any growth or abnormality; he can also collect a biopsy of suspicious growths during this procedure.
You may need to undergo a few regular blood tests like you complete blood count, ESR etc. Your doctor may advise you to undergo a CT scan, MRI or PET scan in order to detect the extent of spread of the cancer.
Now you should know to look out for all the neck cancer symptoms.
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