Throat cancer: not just smokers…
Throat cancer risk factors are well identified. First of them: tobacco, responsible for more than 80% of cases. Another trigger is alcohol. Men who drink more than three glasses a day, and women who drink more than two glasses have a significantly higher risk of developing “upper aerodigestive tract” cancer. Moreover, tobacco and alcohol mutually reinforce their harmful effects.
But let’s not forget the human papillomaviruses (HPV) – which are transmitted by contact with the skin or mucous membranes between two individuals – at the origin of more than 3,000 new cases of throat cancer in France each year.
Finally, certain occupational exposures (wood dust, asbestos, nickel, strong acids) may be involved.
Signs that should alert
Do you know the “1 for 3” rule? Symptoms such as sore throat, dysphagia (i.e. difficulty swallowing), hoarseness, lymph nodes in the neck, etc. should alert: if you have had 1 of these symptoms for more than 3 weeks, a notice medical is required. Therefore, an endoscopy of the aerodigestive tract with biopsies may or may not confirm the diagnosis.
As for the treatment, it depends on the location of the tumor and its degree of extension. This can be surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
As you have understood, throat cancer belongs to this type of cancer that is called “preventable”. Prevention involves quitting smoking, moderate alcohol consumption and vaccination against human papillomaviruses.
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