What Do We Know About Throat Cancer?

What Do We Know About Throat Cancer?

Cancer in throat is when abnormal cells multiply and form tumors in your voice box, vocal cords, and other parts of the throat. There are two main types: pharyngeal and laryngeal.

Pharyngeal cancer is when the cancerous cells start growing in your actual throat, or pharynx, which is the tube that you use to swallow. It can be divided into three sections: nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx. The nasopharynx is the upper section of the throat behind the nose. The oropharynx is the middle section that includes the tonsils, and the majority of the back portion of your tongue. Most instances of this type of cancer are found in the oropharynx. The hypopharynx is the bottom section leading up the larynx.

Laryngeal cancer is located in the larynx, also called the voice box. It is also divided into three parts: the supraglottis, glottis, and subglottis, which are the portions above, in the middle, and below the vocal cords respectively.

The majority of cases deal with cancer cells that affect the flat cells lining the throat, otherwise called squamous cell carcinoma. There are four stages of throat cancer, measuring the size of the tumors and extent that they have grown into nearby organs.

Compared to other types of cancer, cancer in throat is relatively uncommon, and has a high survival rate if diagnosed early. However, if the disease has already progressed past the head and neck area, it may not be curable.

What Causes It?

Throat cancer can be caused by a multitude of factors, the most notable of which being frequent tobacco use, especially combined with alcohol use. Some other possible causes would be poor nutrition or dental hygiene, or inhalation of certain chemicals like nickel, asbestos, or sulfuric acid fumes.

HPV has fairly recently been identified as a root cause as well, making sexual contact a possible method of contracting the disease.

Genetic factors can also contribute to developing cancer in throat. Men are five times more likely to get it, and particularly, African-American men are at the most risk. The majority of people get diagnosed after the age of 65.

Common Symptoms

Common throat cancer signs to look out for include:

  • A change in your voice, or hoarseness
  • Dysphagia, or having difficulty swallowing
  • A sore throat that won’t go away
  • A persistent cough or earache
  • A lump in your neck
  • A headache
  • Unexplained weight loss

It’s important to take these throat cancer signs seriously, and you should definitely see a doctor if they haven’t gone away after a few weeks.

Common Treatments

Treatments for your throat cancer is highly dependent on what stage the disease is at, where the tumor is located, your general health, and whatever preferences for treatment that you might have. These treatments are provided to you by health care specialists like medical and radiation oncologists, head/neck and plastic/reconstructive surgeons, speech pathologists, dentists, and several types of therapists.

If your tumor is small enough, it’s usually possible for your doctor to surgically remove it from your throat. This may involve removing all or part of your voice box, vocal cords, or parts of your neck. Radiation therapy will be recommended after any type of cancer surgery.

If the tumor is too large or you can’t tolerate the surgery required, you can also use a combination of chemo and radiation therapy as your primary treatment. Chemotherapy is a drug that is used to either shrink tumors before you undergo surgery or kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery or radiation treatment.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to attack any malignant cancer cells that may exist or be left behind after removing a tumor. There are three types of radiation therapy: brachytherapy, intensity-modulated radiotherapy and 3D-conformal radiation therapy. With both intensity-modulated and 3D-conformal radiation therapy, radiation beams are tailored to the exact shape of your tumor. With brachytherapy, tiny radioactive seeds are placed directly inside or close to the tumor in your body.

Targeted therapy is a more recent form of treatment. It uses drugs to stop or slow down the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules inside the tumor that makes it grow. This is often paired up with either chemotherapy or radiation, and can be administered through an infusion or with a pill.

After treatment, you could have trouble speaking, breathing, or swallowing. You may want to consult with a speech, physical, or occupational therapist in order to solve these issues. If these difficulties are due to a physical change such as disfigurement or skin hardening around the neck due to surgery, you can also discuss the possibility of a reconstructive surgery to remedy this problem.

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Everything You Need To Know About Gum Cancer

Everything You Need To Know About Gum Cancer

With each passing year, millions of Americans succumb to the awful disease that is cancer. A commonly forgotten type of cancer is gum cancer. However, with tens of thousands of cases annually, oral cancer should not be taken lightly. Today, we’re going to take a comprehensive look into all the information you need to know about this disease.

What Is Gum Cancer?

Gum cancer, otherwise known as oral cancer, is a harmful disease that impacts your gums. This type of cancer first appears due to uncontrollable cell growth in your gum region. From there, this uncontrollable cell growth results in the formation of a tumor or sore in the mouth. Often, this tumor is mistaken for a canker sore, toothache, or gingivitis, making oral cancer particularly difficult to detect.

On any given year, nearly 50,000 people will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer. Of these individuals, around 10,000 will die. By in large, men typically suffer from oral cancer more frequently than women, as they are two times more likely to develop this form of cancer.

What Causes This Disease?

There are a few factors that increase your chance of developing oral cancer. Here are a few of them.

  • If you have a family history of cancer, you’re at a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
  • If you smoke, you have a greater chance of developing this disease.
  • Too much exposure to the sun is one of the common causes of oral cancer.
  • If you get infected with HPV, you’re more likely to develop this disease.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol may contribute to oral cancer.

You should be aware of the impact each of these factors can have on your likelihood of developing oral cancer. If you make just a few lifestyle changes, it’s possible to reduce the risk of developing oral cancer.

What Are The Common Signs And Symptoms Of This Form Of Cancer?

There are a significant amount of signs and symptoms present in individuals who develop oral cancer. Let’s examine a few common gum cancer symptoms:

  • You may experience swelling throughout your mouth.
  • There may be small sores on the inside of your mouth.
  • One of the gum cancer symptoms you may experience is difficulty eating or swallowing your food.
  • Many individuals with oral cancer report having blood in their mouth.
  • You may develop white or red spots throughout your mouth.
  • You may have a constant gag reflex, as if something is stuck in the back of your throat.
  • Your gums may begin to crack, causing sensitivity.
  • You may experience severe pain in the ear that does not subsist.

If you experience several of these gum cancers signs, be sure to get in contact with a medical professional immediately.

What Treatment Options Are There?

Although oral cancer is a severe disease, there are treatment options that can help individuals overcome this disease. The first step that individuals diagnosed with oral cancer must take is surgery. In this step, doctors seek to remove the malignant tumor in your mouth. Depending on which portion of your mouth is impacted, the surgery could be minor or severe.

The next step in the process is radiation therapy. During this step, doctors look to remove the remnants of the tumor that are still present after surgery. Radiation therapy seeks to inhibit the reproductive ability of malignant cells, preventing them from continuing to spread. This treatment is particularly effective for patients in the early stages of cancer.

Finally, the last step of the process is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is typically used if the cancer is in the later stages of its development or if it has impacted a larger portion of the mouth.

What Preventative Measures Can I Take?

Fortunately, there are multiple preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of developing gum cancer. Here are three tips:

1. First of all, look to limit how often you vape, smoke, and drink alcohol. Each of these factors increases the risk of oral cancer.

2. Always be sure to schedule regular dental and doctor appointments. Make sure to schedule screenings to check for the early signs of oral cancer.

3. Eat a well-balanced diet that stays away from fast food and processed foods.

Hopefully, this post has provided you with some valuable information about oral cancer, gum cancers signs, and the treatment options available for this disease. If you suspect that you or a family member has this form of cancer, be sure to visit a doctor immediately. If you’re looking for a dentist’s office that can help you detect the early signs of oral cancer, consider contacting us at Arizona Dental Specialists. Your text to link…

Cancer of the Tongue: A Preventable Tragedy

Cancer of the Tongue: A Preventable Tragedy

During routine dental examinations, you may have noticed that your dentist has you stick out your tongue. The dentist grasps it with a gauze and examines it carefully, both visually and by palpation. It’s not a comfortable procedure. Do you wonder why this happens so often?

Tongue cancer is not one of the more common cancers but it is a devastating disease. When not caught early, the treatment often involves extensive, debilitating surgery. Your dentist is looking for any suspicious lesions or masses, essentially looking for cancer on tongue.


  • Tobacco – The major cause of cancer of tongue is tobacco. About 90% of those who develop this cancer use tobacco in one form or another. The risk of this cancer in tobacco users is 6 times that of non-users.
  • Alcohol – The correlation is mainly between cancer of tongue and hard liquor, especially in those who consume more than 4 drinks a day. In people who drink and smoke, the risk increases to 15 times that of people who don’t.
  • Betel nut chewing – A common habit in India and other parts of Asia, the betel nut is an irritant and carcinogenic.
  • HPV – Human Papilloma Virus – A sexually transmitted virus, it has been associated with precancerous lesions.

In the United States cancer of the tongue only accounts for 2% of all cancers each year. In Europe the rate is lower, except in France, where it ranks third among all cancers in males and is the second leading cause of death from cancer. It also occurs more frequently in India and areas of Asia where chewing Betel nuts is common.

Most cancers of the tongue are of the type called squamous cell carcinoma. And most tongue cancers tend to cause no symptoms until they become quite large. That is why your dentist pulls on your tongue, trying to get a good look and feel to insure that there are no developing lesions.


  • Dental x-rays – These can show bony involvement of the jaw.
  • MRI – Magnetic Resonance Imaging is an excellent study for looking at soft tissues, like the tongue. It can show the size and depth of the lesion.
  • CT scan – This test is useful for looking at lymph nodes to determine spread of the cancer.
  • PET scan – Positron Emission Tomography essentially evaluates inflammation at the cellular level. It is generally used to evaluate a patient in whom cancer is suspected. It can also appraise the effects of treatment.

Biopsy of the lesion will reveal the type.


Treatment of tongue cancer depends on the size, type and infiltration of the tumor, in other words, the stage. There are two types of treatment.

  • Radiation – Radiation therapy is used by itself when the tongue cancer is small. But head and neck oncologists generally prefer not to use radiation in young patients. The treatment is known to cause serious problems later in life. Radiation is also used in conjunction with surgery in larger lesions.
  • Surgery – Small tumors are removed without difficulty. Larger cancers may require extensive resection, even including part of the jaw.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is generally only used in cases with distant metastases.

The major challenge at this time is reconstruction of the tongue. The tongue has so many uses. It is essential to speech, taste, eating and swallowing. No one has managed a satisfactory restoration as yet.

The tragic aspect to cancer on tongue is that it is preventable. Tobacco causes the cancer. Not smoking, not chewing tobacco will not guarantee avoidance of this devastating disease but it makes the odds a great deal better.

Now that you know about cancer of the tongue, make sure you check in with your dentist for regular cleaning every six months. Not only will this regimen keep your mouth and teeth bright and healthy but you’ll be reassured that you don’t have any suspicious lesions in your mouth as well.

Lip Cancer: Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Lip Cancer: Diagnosis, Treatment & Prevention

Though not terribly common, lip cancer has the potential to cause serious health and aesthetic issues for stricken individuals and, if left untreated, has the potential to spread and cause life-threatening health problems.

Cancer On Lip Defined

Cancer of the lip is medically classified as an oral cavity cancer that impacts the skin and inner tissues of the lips. Scientific researchers consider lip skin cancer to be one of the more prevalent malignancies in this particular categorization. That said, however, the condition is relatively rare. In the early late 2000’s, the cancer accounted for roughly only two percent of all malignancies per 100,000 diagnosed cases in the United States.


Medical professionals suggest that the vast majority of cases precipitate from frequent or excessive adherence to specific lifestyle habits. Many reports indicate individuals that receive diagnosis have a significant history smoking cigarettes, consuming exorbitant amounts of alcohol or exposing the lips to overabundant concentrations of sunlight. They say sun exposure is among  the most significant contributing factors. In fact, individuals who work outdoors comprise many of the cases. These individuals are at an increasing risk for developing the ailment.

Potential Risk Factors

Though you might stand at a significantly higher risk of developing lip skin cancer by partaking in the preceding lifestyle habits, other individual factors can also elevate your risk. These provisions include being male, possessing fair color skin, being at least 40 years old and having contracted the Human Papilomavirus (HPV).

Physical Manifestations

In its earliest stages, cancer on lip may be asymptomatic. When manifestations do occur or when the malignancy has progressed beyond the earliest stages, you might experience problematic occurrences like:

  • A sore or bump that appears on the lip and is slow to heal or lingers
  • Lip discomfort
  • Unexplained lip bleeding
  • Pain or swelling of the jaw or other associated oral regions
  • White or red patches or blotches appearing on the lips

It is important to reiterate that these symptoms could be features of far less serious ailments than cancer. However, if said occurrences linger or are uncomfortable, investigation by a doctor or dentist is warranted.

Possible Complications

When detected early, lip malignancies are more than 90 percent curable. However, when left unchecked, said maladies could spread to other oral regions such as the jaw, tongue, the throat or distant organs. Like any other malignancy, metastasized lip cancer is far more challenging to treat or cure and the overall survival rates drop precipitously. Furthermore, even if more advanced cases that are treated, associated treatments might result in issues like permanent disfigurement, pain, speech problems and dental issues that might make eating difficult.


Cancer on lip can be diagnosed by either a medical doctor or dentist. Abnormalities that might suggest the presence of cancer are relatively easy to detect through routine physical and dental examinations. Should a medical professional fear a cancer diagnosis, said individual will typically first order a biopsy, which is the extraction of a small portion of suspicious tissue.

If the sample returns positive, your healthcare provider may then employ a number of other diagnostic tools to determine the type of cancer, as well as how far the malignancy has advanced. Such tools include X-rays, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Endoscopy and various blood tests.

Potential Treatment Options

The specific treatment protocol your doctor opts to pursue will depend upon numerous different factors including your:

  • Age
  • General health
  • The specific type of cancer
  • The stage at which the disease is diagnosed
  • If the malignancy has traveled to other bodily regions

Typically, if the cancer is small and localized, minor surgery to remove the malignant growth may be the only therapeutic protocol required. In more complicated cases, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of the two procedures might be necessitated.


While it might be impossible to completely prevent the development of lip cancer, engaging in certain actions may significantly reduce your risk. Such actions include:

  • Quitting cigarette smoking or other similar products like pipes or chewing tobacco
  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding exposing your lips to direct sunlight
  • When sunlight exposure is unavoidable, try to shading lips with balm or some type of protective covering
  • Refraining from the use of tanning beds

Additionally, many healthcare professionals recommend obtaining regular dental checkups. In numerous instances, dentists can detect early stage lip cancers during routine checkups or other dental procedures.

For more information about cancer of the lip, please visit https://www.arizonadentalspecialists.com.

Spotting Oral Cancer & How To Prevent It

Spotting Oral Cancer & How To Prevent It

It is every patient’s worst nightmare to hear a cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately for dentists, it is sometimes part of the job. Here is how to spot the symptoms of mouth cancer, and some steps you can take to prevent it.

What To Look For

Oral cancer can be hard to spot, as part of your mouth are hard to see every day. However, any abnormality could be a sign of an oral condition in need of a dental check.

If you notice any open sores or ulcers that don’t heal quickly, or you are finding small patches of white, flaky looking skin in your mouth, give your dentist a call to have that checked sooner than later. It is also important to notice any bumps or swelling in your mouth. This could also be a symptom of oral cancer.

How To Prevent It

While there is no way to guarantee a cancer free life, there are a few ways you can prevent it. Eating a balanced diet, brushing and flossing regularly, avoiding smoking or chewing tobacco, limiting your consumption of alcohol, and most importantly, seeing your dentist regularly are all great ways to not only maintain great oral health, but are known to prevent oral cancer as well.

Have An Oral Cancer Question?

Looking for more information on oral cancer? Give our specialists a call today at (602) 795-5995.

Can My Dentist Detect Oral Cancer?

Can My Dentist Detect Oral Cancer?

We look at our smile everyday – whether it it’s while we are brushing them or smiling for a photo, we know what our own smile looks like. Being aware of what our mouths look like is important, because the second we see an abnormality, it is vital to consult a doctor. Who should you see, though? Can your dentist help you if it is what you fear it is – cancer? (more…)

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