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Neck and Throat Cancer Symptoms

Doctors at ENT in Cayman™ routinely perform comprehensive examinations for cancer of the mouth (oral cancer), throat (pharyngeal cancer) and voice box (laryngeal cancer). Patients at highest risk for these cancers are smokers and/or those who drinks alcohol on a regular basis.

Tobacco (in all its forms) is a major contributor to oral and laryngeal cancer. Avoiding tobacco products is the single most important preventive measure. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of throat cancer. Moderate or no drinking reduces the risk. Most important, consuming both tobacco and alcohol significantly increases the risk of oral, pharyngeal, and laryngeal cancer more than either by itself.

Patients should be aware that these lifestyle choices can lead to serious illness. They should also know the signs and symptoms of oral, pharyngeal, and laryngeal cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

Early-stage oral, pharyngeal, and laryngeal cancers are often painless, and the physical signs cannot be seen by the patient. So, these cancers are often not noticed until they are well developed. About 60 percent are diagnosed only when they become advanced tumors (stage T3 or T4), causing a high death rate. Up to 43 percent of patients with these cancers will not survive more than five years.

In addition to avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, patients should be aware of the warning signs and symptoms, and if they suspect a problem, they should consult with an ENT specialist. This is very important, as cure and survival are most likely in the earlier stages of disease.

Early symptoms

  • Discoloration (red and/or white) of the soft tissue in the mouth
  • Sore throat that persists more than two weeks
  • Hoarseness that lasts for more than three weeks

Advanced symptoms

  • Foreign-body sensation in the mouth and/or throat
  • Tight muscles in the lips, mouth and/or tongue and/or difficulty in moving those muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty fully opening the mouth
  • Chronic bad breath not caused by lack of oral hygiene
  • Blood in saliva or bloody mucous while coughing
  • Loss of teeth or a tooth prosthesis that no longer fits
  • Loss of voice
  • Single-sided pain in the throat and/or neck radiating into the ear region
  • Palpable lump or mass developing in the mouth or on the neck
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite

What is a comprehensive cancer examination?

The ENT specialist performs a visual and tactile exploration of the mouth, throat, and larynx, using a microscope and endoscopes to explore areas that are not normally visible. This examination allows serious conditions to be identified at the earliest possible time, when treatments are most effective. Furthermore, modern imaging, such as advanced ultrasound studies and/ or computer-tomography (CT-scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are completing the diagnostic tool kit.

What is HPV 16 (Human Papilloma Virus) infection?

In recent years, the number of young non-smoking individuals diagnosed with oral cancer has increased. The main reason is a persistent human papillomavirus (HPV 16) infection. So far, scientists are not sure why HPV 16 is associated with cancer in the oral cavity. Safer sex practices can significantly reduce the risk of virus transmission. There are also three different vaccines available to prevent many of the high-risk strains of HPV, including HPV 16. HPV vaccination is routinely advised for girls and boys starting from the age of 11. It can be routinely used up to the age of 26 in woman and 21 in men.

For more information about conditions related to Neck and Throat Cancer Symptoms, Click the buttons below. To access additional information about ENT in Cayman Ltd. or to schedule an appointment, call +1 (345) 745-ECKE (3253).