Throat Cancer (Larynx and Pharynx)
What Is It?
Throat cancer occurs when cells in the organs used for breathing, speaking, and swallowing begin to divide rapidly and abnormally. Most throat cancer begins on the vocal cords. Later, it spreads to the voice box (larynx); to the back of the throat, including part of the tongue and the tonsils (this whole area is called the pharynx); or below the voice box to the subglottis and trachea (windpipe). An early symptom of throat cancer is unexplained hoarseness or a raspy voice.
Smokers are at high risk of throat cancer. Other people at risk include those who drink a lot of alcohol, especially if they also smoke. People with a vitamin A deficiency and certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection also may be more likely to develop throat cancer.