Michael Douglas, Sigmund Freud, Ulysses S. Grant, George Harrison and Babe Ruth –what could these people possibly have in common? Throat Cancer.
Even though it’s not talked about as much as some other types of cancer, throat cancer isn’t rare. In fact it’s the sixth most common cancer in the United States.
Throat cancer can start in the soft tissues of the upper, middle or bottom portion of the throat and can include the voice box (larnyx).
Researchers have found that 85% percent of throat cancers occur after exposure to cancer-causing chemicals like tobacco and alcohol and tend to develop in areas where these chemicals have the most contact. Those at risk for developing throat cancer are people who drink 3 or more alcoholic beverages per day, or smoke or chew tobacco (or have in the past). People that use both tobacco and alcohol are at an even greater risk for developing throat cancer than people who use alcohol or tobacco alone.
Symptoms like difficulty swallowing, a sore or painful area in the mouth or throat, a persistent hoarse voice, or a lump in the throat or neck that doesn’t go away should be checked by a doctor.
The good news is that throat cancer may be prevented by changing habits and can be treated if caught early. You can reduce your risk for developing throat cancer by receiving regular medical check- ups, eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and seeing the doctor when symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks.