Treating Throat Cancer
Treatments for throat cancer changes depending on various factors. This is why it is important for doctors to apply the necessary treatment; otherwise, the treatment may itself hurt the patient.
The options vary depending on the following factors:
- Location and stage of the cancer
- The type of cells involved; lastly,
- One’s personal preference
Surgery is one of the most common treatment options for most types of cancer. Furthermore, surgical oncologists are the ones that perform this treatment; they are doctors who specialize in cancer treatment. Moreover, the main aim of surgery is to remove the part of the throat that has cancer completely or the entire voice box. (1)
Types of surgical procedures can be considered for treatment of throat cancer depending on the stage and location of the disease, and they include:
- Surgery for early-stage throat cancer: Treatment using endoscopy is best for tumors located on the surface of the throat.
- Surgery to remove all or part of the larynx (laryngectomy): With this type of surgery part, surgeons remove part of the voice box, without losing the ability to speak. However, when the tumor is more extensive, it is necessary to remove the entire voice box. The windpipe is then attached to the stoma in the throat to allow one to breathe.
- Surgery to remove part of the throat (pharyngotomy): Pharyngectomy may involve removing part of the throat if the throat cancer is small. The parts that the surgeons removed are then reconstructed to enable one to swallow food normally.
- Surgery to remove the lymph nodes: Also known as neck dissection, surgeons perform this treatment when the cancer has spread deep within the neck. Furthermore, the surgery may involve removing some or all the lymph nodes if doctors confirm that they have cancer cells.
This cancer treatment option involves the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to kill cancer cells. The most common type of radiation therapy is the external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation that emits from a machine outside the body Furthermore, radiologists apply radiation therapy over a set period and consist of the specific number of treatments. However, it is not effective on widespread cancers. Lastly, for early-stage throat cancers, radiation therapy may be the only necessary treatment. (2)
Chemotherapy is a vital cancer treatment options where doctors destroy the cancer cells by administering medications. This stops the ability of the cancer cells to grow and divide rapidly. They also do it on multiple occasions over a set period. However, some chemotherapy drugs make the cells that contain cancer to be more sensitive to radiation therapy.
This is where the treatment administered targets cancer’s specific proteins, genes or the tissue environment that is the major contributor to the growth of cancer. An instance of this cancer treatment type is immunotherapy (this is a therapy that boosts the body’s natural defense mechanism to fight against cancer). (3)