Throat Cancer

Topics: Cancer, Radiation therapy, Oncology Pages: 4 (1453 words) Published: January 2, 2002
Throat Cancer
Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car accidents, murder, suicide, and fires---combined! The use of tobacco increases the risk of contracting throat cancer. Throat cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers within the United States. Cancer of the larynx (or voice box) is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the larynx. The larynx is a short passageway shaped like a triangle that is just below the pharynx in the neck. The pharynx is a hollow tube about 5 inches long that begins behind the nose and goes down to the neck to become part of the esophagus (the tube that goes to the stomach). Air passes through the pharynx and then the larynx on the way to the windpipe (trachea) and into the lungs. Food passes through the pharynx on the way to the esophagus. The larynx has a small piece of tissue over it, called the epiglottis which keeps food from going into it or the air passages. Throat cancer occurs when cells in the pharynx or larynx begin to divide abnormally and out of control. Most throat cancer begins on the vocal cords, later spreading to other parts of the larynx and pharynx. One of the most reliable and earliest symptom of throat cancer is sudden, unexplained hoarseness in the voice. About 10,000 new cases of throat cancer occur in the United States per year, generally affecting older males who use chewing tobacco, or those who have been heavy smokers (cigarettes, cigars and/or pipe smokers), or alcohol abusers. Studies indicate that the incidence of throat cancer in women and young people has increased due to the greater use of tobacco and alcohol products in this bracket. Throat cancer is more common in men, because smoking is a more common habit among males. Only one-fifth of the patients diagnosed with throat cancer will be women. Throat cancer is also closely associated with other cancers. Fifteen percent of throat-cancer patients also are diagnosed with...
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