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Sound Sultan: 18 things to know about throat cancer


Sound Sultan: 18 things Nigerians deserve to know about throat cancer

Nigerians received a rude shock on Sunday when news made the round that ailing Afro Pop and rap singer, Olanrewaju Fasasi popularly known as Sound Sultan, has died from his perennial battle with throat cancer.

As painful as his death may be, it has got many people wondering how serious throat cancer can be.

This prompted WuzupNigeria to dig deep and presents 17 revealing details about throat cancer.



Throat cancer generally refers to cancer that start in the pharynx or larynx (voice box), but can also refer to cancer within the oesophagus (food pipe) or thyroid.



Some cancers which begin in the throat area, as well as the tongue, salivary glands, sinuses, nose or ear are classified as head and neck cancers.



The two main types of throat cancers are referred to as pharyngeal and laryngeal cancers – cancer of the pharynx and the larynx.



Throat cancer symptoms include throat pain, shortness of breath, persistent sore throat or cough, coughing up blood, changes to the voice such as hoarseness to difficulties experienced in swallowing food or medication.

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Others are lumps in the neck or throat, feeling there is something stuck in the throat and sudden unexplained weight loss.



Throat cancer is caused by a number of risk factors such as smoking tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), poor diet and family history of cancer.



To diagnose either pharyngeal or laryngeal cancer, doctors may conduct physical examination of the mouth, throat and neck. It is expected that such examination may also involve inserting a gloved finger into the mouth to examine areas that are difficult to see.

A blood test sample is also required to examine the patient’s general health.



Where biopsy is concerned, the doctor will remove a small sample of tissue or cells for examination under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present.



In the course of test, a thin tube with a light on its end (endoscope) will be inserted through the nose to look for abnormalities in the throat.



A doctor may opt for ultrasound, where a small device called a transducer is used to send out soundwaves that echo when they hit something dense such as an organ or tumour.

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A patient could be requested to have a chest X-ray to assess his overall health or to see if cancer has spread to the lungs or deploy the use of computerised tomography scan or a magnetic resonance imaging scan to create detailed images of the interior part of the human body.



After a diagnosis of throat cancer, it is expected that one may experience a range of emotions such as disbelief, confusion and sadness and feelings of loss of control.

These reactions are normal and one may find it helpful to talking to family and friends about it.



The treatment available for throat cancer will depend on the size of the cancer and whether it has started spreading.
This is called staging and will help your doctors determine the best treatment options for you.



Treatments for throat cancers include surgery, radiation therapy (radiotherapy) and chemotherapy, or a combination of one or more of these.



Depending on the size of the tumour, a patient may be recommended to undergo surgery to have it removed. The type of surgery will also depend on the location of the cancer and may involve removing part of the pharynx or the partial or full removal of the larynx, thyroid or tongue.

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After surgery, you may also receive radiation therapy (also known as radiation therapy). In some cases radiotherapy will be the principal treatment type.



In some instances, chemotherapy may be required along with radiation, particularly if the tumours are large or the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink tumours prior to surgery.



Around 60% of pharyngeal and laryngeal cancers in are caused by smoking; around 30% are caused by excess alcohol consumption.

So quitting smoking and moderating alcohol consumption will significantly reduce your risk of developing throat cancer.



Medical experts globally, however, acknowledge that if diagnosed early, throat cancer has a high survival rate. According to them, throat cancer may not be curable once malignant cells spread to parts of the body beyond the neck and head.