Cancers that start in the throat are known as throat cancers. And carcinomas that develop in the lower part of the throat are called laryngeal and hypo pharyngeal cancers. To better understand these carcinomas, it is necessary to first know about larynx and hypo pharynx.
- arynx : Larynx is one those organs in our body that enables us to speak and contain our vocal cords. It is located above the trachea, opening inside the neck and helps in keeping food and fluids from entering the windpipe.
- Hypo pharynx : Part of the throat that lies behind the larynx is known as hypo pharynx. It is the entrance to the esophagus and it makes sure that the food and fluids go around the larynx and into the food pipe.
Laryngeal and hypo pharyngeal cancers
Squamous cell carcinomas
Most of the laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancers develop in the innermost layers lining the larynx and hypopharynx, which is composed of thin, flat cells. Almost all squamous cell carcinomas of the larynx and hypopharynx begin development as a pre-cancer stage called dysplasia. And sometimes, dysplasia can advance to a condition called carcinoma in-situ (CIS), which is the earliest form of cancer. If not treated, CIS can develop into invasive carcinoma and cause even more critical damage to tissues and organs.
Other rare cancers that develop in throat are :
- Minor salivary gland cancers : These are cancers developing from tiny glands that produces saliva and keep the area lubricated. Such carcinomas are known by many types including mucoepidermoid carcinoma, adenoid cystic carcinoma and adenocarcinoma.
- Sarcomas : Even though it is extremely rare, carcinomas like chondrosarcomas or synovial sarcomas can start from connective tissues present in the larynx and hypopharynx framework.
- Melanomas : Cancers which can develop on mucosal surfaces (like larynx or hypopharynx ) inside the body are referred as melanomas.
Diagnosis of throat cancer
Doctors use a variety of methods in order to diagnose cancer and provide appropriate treatment depending upon the stage and extent of carcinoma spread.
Visiting a otolaryngologist should be the first step for a patient who shows any signs of throat cancer. Examination of the larynx and hypopharynx can be done by two methods :
- Direct laryngoscopy : In this method, the doctor inserts a thin, flexible, lighted tube through the nose or mouth of the patient to have a look at the larynx and other areas.
- Indirect laryngoscopy : For Indirect laryngoscopy, the doctor uses some special mirrors to look at the larynx and other areas.
Panendoscopy is a combination of various methods including esophagoscopy, laryngoscopy, and sometimes bronchoscopy. It allows the doctor to view the entire area around the larynx along with trachea and esophagus.