Throat cancer: these 4 symptoms should alert you if they last more than 3 weeks

THE throat cancer, also called ENT (otolaryngeal) cancers, head and neck cancers, or upper aerodigestive tract cancers (VADS), develop in the lips, mouth, pharynx (nasopharynx, oropharynx, hypopharynx), larynx, or even the nasal cavity, sinuses, or salivary glands.

These cancers are mainly caused by consumption tobacco and D’alcoholHowever, another cause is playing a growing role, especially in oropharyngeal cancer (including tonsils and the base of the tongue): viruses the human papillomavirus (HPV) family.

We realized that there is not enough media about ENT cancersestimates Professor Sylvain Morinière, ENT surgeon and President of the French Society of Head and Neck Oncology (SFCCF). That’s why we created the Red Gorge campaign “.

Taking place the week of April 2-5, 2024, the national Rouge-Gorge campaign aims to raise awareness of head and neck cancer, which is on the rise in women, and enable earlier diagnosis. ” Too many patients come in at an advanced stage. However, some clinical symptoms should have alerted them. We then lose months and end up with serious cases », regrets Professor Morinière, who was approached by Top Santé.

Throat cancer often occurs between the ages of 50 and 64, but some occur in younger patients

In France, the number of new cases of cancer of the throat (lips, mouth, pharynx and larynx) 15,264 every year : 10,932 new cases are diagnosed in men, 4,332 cases in women.

If the number of throat cancers in men is decreasing, it is growing among women. A trend linked mainly to the development of smoking, on the rise among women.

Throat tumors are the most common between 50 and 64 yearsbut some of them like oropharyngeal cancers caused by HPV, occur in younger patients who are generally healthy and do not consume alcohol or tobacco. Cases of HPV-induced throat cancer are on the rise and affect both men and women. These cancers tend to be diagnosed in two age groups: 30 to 40 years and 60 to 70 years. ” The increase in cases is due to papillomavirus. This risk factor is not that new, but it has been increasing in the last ten years. », explains the ENT surgeon.

This well-known virus is responsible for numerous pathological conditions, including pharyngeal cancer. This cancer occurs in people whose profile differs from other cancers caused by alcohol and tobacco. We see younger patients who do not drink or smoke. So they don’t imagine they are at risk of cancer “.

They therefore attribute their symptoms to colds or winter viruses. ” They have a healthy lifestyle, so they have no reason to suspect cancer. For months they have been seeing doctors, taking syrups and their carer is not worried ” regrets the expert.

The result: cancer is often detected at an advanced stage. So it follows more invasive treatments and more serious consequences than if the disease had been detected at an early stage.

“If symptoms last more than three weeks, it’s worrying”

Cancer caused by HPV has excellent prognosis if detected at an early stage. In 90% of cases, patients recover. However, if the stage progresses with multiple nodes, less than one in two patients will survive.

Professor Morinière states warning signs : ” We find pain in the throat when swallowing, canker sores that do not go away, lumps in the throat (ganglion), discomfort in the mouth with bleeding… “.

These symptoms are benign if it doesn’t last. Which often happens. Gold, if they last more than three weeks, it is disturbing. This is when you need advice.

HPV-induced cancers are preventable vaccination : ” the vaccine is offered to adolescents. Membership is around 15 to 20%. But if we want to have an impact, we need to reach 65%. Boys and girls. The vaccine allows you to defend yourself and destroy the virus “, explains Professor Morinière.

Throat Cancer: 4 Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore for More Than 3 Weeks

Throat cancer, encompassing cancers of the larynx (voice box) and pharynx (throat), can be a frightening prospect. However, early detection is crucial for successful treatment. Here, we focus on four key symptoms that warrant attention, especially if they persist for more than 3 weeks:

  1. Changes in Your Voice: A persistent alteration in your voice is a prominent sign of throat cancer. This could manifest as:

    • Hoarseness: This is the most common symptom, often described as a raspy or breathy voice.
    • Vocal strain or weakness: You might find it difficult to speak for extended periods or experience a noticeably weaker voice.
    • Changes in pitch: Your voice may become higher-pitched or lower-pitched than usual.
  2. Persistent Sore Throat: A sore throat that lingers for more than 3 weeks, especially if it’s not accompanied by a cold or other infection, could be a red flag. This discomfort might feel scratchy, burning, or raw.

  3. Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia): This symptom can present in various ways, including:

    • Pain or discomfort when swallowing
    • The sensation of food getting stuck in your throat
    • Feeling like it takes more effort to swallow
  4. Lump in Your Neck: A persistent lump in your neck, especially near the voice box or jawline, can be a warning sign of throat cancer. It’s important to note that not all lumps are cancerous, but a painless lump that doesn’t go away after a few weeks deserves a doctor’s evaluation.

If you experience any of these symptoms for more than 3 weeks, see a doctor or healthcare professional promptly. Early detection is critical for improved treatment outcomes in throat cancer. They can perform a physical examination, discuss your medical history, and potentially recommend further tests like X-rays, CT scans, or biopsies to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Remember: This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about throat cancer or any other health issue, consult your doctor for personalized guidance and treatment.

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