Throat cancer originates in the throat and neck area. As the malignancy progresses, tumors can grow larger and cancerous cells can eventually spread to areas outside of the throat and neck. Throat cancer that has reached this advanced stage is known as metastatic cancer of the throat, or stage 4 throat cancer. At this advanced stage, throat cancer may spread to other nearby structures in the neck, such as the lymph nodes, or to more distant sites such as the lungs. These new tumors have cancer cells that are identical to those that were found in the throat. Therefore, the new tumor would not be considered a new type of cancer, like lung cancer, for instance, but rather be identified as metastatic throat cancer.
What are the symptoms of metastatic throat cancer?
In its early stages, throat cancer may have few or no symptoms. As it continues to progress, you may notice:
- Changes in your voice
- Trouble swallowing
- Chronic sore throat
- Persistent cough
- Weight loss
By the time it has advanced to become metastatic throat cancer, these symptoms will be more prominent. Additional symptoms may also appear depending on where the cancer has spread. For example, if it spreads to the lungs, you may also experience shortness of breath.
There are many other, less serious conditions that can cause symptoms similar to metastatic throat cancer. Therefore, if you start noticing symptoms, you should consult with your physician for a diagnosis and to rule out other illness.
What are my treatment options for metastatic throat cancer?
Treatment for metastatic throat cancer typically includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of two or more treatments. The treatment that is right for you will depend on many unique factors, including the size and location of the tumor, the stage of cancer and where it has spread and your general health.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we take an individualized approach to diagnosing and treating metastatic throat cancer, ensuring each of our patients receives a treatment plan tailored to his or her specific needs. If you have been diagnosed with throat cancer and would like a second opinion or information about receiving treatment at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out a new patient registration form online.