Oropharyngeal Cancer Symptoms and Treatment

Oropharyngeal Cancer Symptoms    

Oropharyngeal cancer can cause one or more of the following symptoms; the severity of the symptoms tend to vary from one patient to another:

  • Painin the ears
  • Changeof the voice
    • Difficulty or painful swallowing
  • Irritationof the throat
  • Bad breath, which can be controlled
  • Presenceof a lump in the throat;
    • lumps or masses in the neck
  • Unexplained weight loss, which often associated with lack of appetite.

    Oropharyngeal CancerDiagnosis
    Before considering an appropriate treatment, a clear diagnosis of the cancer needs to be established. This is a MUST. All health professionals will do some tests to check the degree to which the tumor has spread. These tests may includecomputed tomography or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).These procedures allow professionals to take detailed pictures of the inside of the body and pinpoint the cancer.

    If the oncologist suspects the presence of an oropharyngeal cancer, he will conduct a full examination of the head and neck.He will exam the mouth, neck and throat, looking for bumps or any other anomalies. Certain health care providers can also use a special camera to take pictures of the inside of the throat.

    But to accurately confirm an oropharyngeal cancerdiagnosis, the diagnostic procedure commonly used is a biopsy. A small sample of tissue is taken out of the region believed to be affected by the tumor to be carefully examined under a microscope. The result will assure the Physician the presenceof cancer cells in the oropharynx tissue.  


Oropharyngeal Cancer Stages

Oropharyngeal cancerstages are classified using a method of classifying the tumor according to its size and degree of spread from its original location. The classification usually ranges from stage 1 to 4. In general, the higher the number corresponding to the stage, the greater the size of the cancer isimportant and it has spread in the body. For example, a stage 1 cancer is relatively small and has notspread far from the point of origin. A stage 4 oropharyngeal cancer is, however, large and has spreadfar from its point of origin

Oropharyngeal Cancer Treatment
Oropharyngeal cancer treatment is also similar to other malignancies of head and neck. Most cancersare treated with surgery, radiotherapy (radiation therapy) or chemotherapy, or by a combination ofthese three methods. As each patient and each case is unique, there is no unique mode of treatment.The oncologist, usually with other professionals, will prescribe the treatment or combination of treatments that best suits the patient.  In general, oropharyngeal cancer treatment depends on thestage or the severity of the tumor, as well as the health status and medical history of the patient.

Oropharyngeal Cancer Surgery – the surgical removal of the tumor is often considered. The seriousness of the surgery and the amount of tissue removed depends on the stage of the cancer, the nature of the affected internal structures and various other factors such as the general health status of the patient. Surgery is usually very effective. However, it is often followed by other forms of therapy aimed at ensuring that all the cancer cells have been eliminated.

Side Effects of the Surgery

While surgeons usually perform surgery to remove tumors of the oropharynx, surgery may affect the ability of the patient to chew, swallow or speak. A swelling of the neck or face may occur. Numbnessof the face, resulting from damage to nerves, is another possible side effect of the surgery

Oropharyngeal Cancer Radiotherapy – Oropharyngeal cancer treatment can include radiation therapy after the surgery in order to kill the cancer cells that could not be removed by surgery. Most doctors use concentrated rays to kill cancer cells, preserving the largest possible number of healthy cells. The radiation therapy is usually administered several times a week for a few weeks, depending on the stage of the cancer being treated.

Side Effects of the Radiation Therapy 

Although radiation therapy is in no way painful, the fact that the radiation beams also kill healthy cells around the tumor, it can cause side effects after the treatment. The most common radiation side effects in oropharyngeal cancer treatment include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Increased risk of bad breath
  • Dry mouthand a feeling of thick saliva
  • Hair loss:radiotherapy to the head sometimes causes hair loss
  • Fatigue:many patients will feel extremely tired because of the treatment
    • Loss of appetite: radiotherapy, as the other cancer therapies, can cause loss of appetite, although at that time it is very important for the patient to eat well and regularly
    • Skin problems: skin may look red, have the appearance of a sunburn or provide a feeling of irritation. These symptoms will disappear at the end of treatment but the patient needs to avoid direct sun exposure.

    Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the latter form of treatment used in the case of oropharyngeal cancer, the chemo drugs are administered by injection or orally. These drugs are designed specificallyto track and kill cancer cells in the entire body. They can however also damage normal cells which divide or reproduce rapidly. This causes side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth ulcers.

    In addition, these anti-cancer drugsdamage the bone marrow, where blood cells are produced, thus affecting the functioning of the blood negatively. This reduces the number of cells in the blood andcan cause side effects. Common chemotherapy side effects related to blood include:

  • Higher riskof infection
  • Bruising
  • Bleedingfor minor scratches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling of weakness.

Most of these side effects will disappear at the end of treatment, and can be controlled (during the therapy) with an appropriate diet. A plant based diet rich in fresh juice made of non-GMO cruciferous vegetables or/and fruit s can really make a big difference. For complete information, visit chemotherapy side effects.

Oropharyngeal Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

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