Before talking about oropharyngeal Cancer, it is important to understand how cancer operates. The human body is a complex machine made of billions of cells. They arrange in group to form organs. The organs collaborate with each other to function properly. These cells grow, divide and die to be regularly replaced by new ones. In healthy people, this process is constant and harmonious. Cancer occurs when there is a cellular disorder, causing a group of cells to grow more rapidlythan healthy cells and refuse to undergo the programmed cell–death (apoptosis). In short, cells become cancerous when theirDNA is damaged
Cancer cells do not work harmoniously with healthy cells. They are like bandits operating isolatedly or lawlessly. In fact, they can sometimes produce toxic substances to be able to not only stay alive but also invade other groups of healthy cells. Theydisplace normal, healthy cells and damage them by drawing onthe resources of the organism.
As cancer cells grow in the body, they form a mass or a lump.This mass is called malignant growth or tumor. If cancer cellscontinue to multiply, they are spreading in the body to distant area. They can invade and damage related organs. Without a proper treatment to stop them, they will continue spreading to affect other parts of the body and form new tumors there, metastasis.
What the oropharyngeal cancer?
Oropharyngeal cancer occurs when, due some DNA damage, cancer cells form in the tissue of the oropharynx. There are different types of oropharynx malignancies. The type of oropharyngeal cancer diagnosed depends on the location and the group of cells that have become cancerous. However, the most common form of cancer of the oropharynx is squamous carcinoma. In this type of cancer,squamous type cells become cancerous.
What is Oropharynx?
The pharynx is a hollow muscular tube in the head and neck. It extends from the back of the noseand down, where the larynx, the trachea and the esophagus begin. In a simple and easy term, the oropharynx is the throat, or the middle part of the pharynx that lies behind the mouth. Tonsils, soft palate and base of the tongue are all located in the oropharynx.
Oropharyngeal Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
It exists many risk factors for oropharyngeal cancer but scientists can’t say for sure what causes the disease. The most common factors suspected include the use of tobacco or heavy alcohol which can damages DNA of cells that line the inside of the mouth and throat, and thus increases the likelihood of oropharyngeal cancer. Environmental conditions, such as living in an area where the air is heavily polluted, can lead to the development of the tumor.
Other risk factors include:
• HPV infection;
• Chewing areca.
Chewing areca nut seems to cause other health problems. Some scientists from Taiwan, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea have discovered that expectant mothers who chew betel quid (a combination of betel leaf, areca nut, and slaked lime), during pregnancy, experience health effects similar to those in mothers who consume alcohol or tobacco during pregnancy: lower birth weights, reduced birth length and early term.