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Throat Cancer: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Throat cancer is a condition wherein cancerous tumours may develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils. Suffering from constant cough, pain in throat or ear, difficulty in swallowing or lump/ sore that is not healing, can be symptoms of throat cancer. You must visit a doctor if you find any of these conditions to be persistent. Throat cancer can be cured by radiation therapy if detected at an early stage. The tumour can be removed through surgery. In some conditions, all/ part of voice box or part of throat may also have to be removed by surgery. Chemotherapy is done to kill cancer cells by using certain drugs.

How is the treatment done?

High energy beams are used to kill cancer cells in radiation therapy. Sources such as x rays and protons are used to deliver these high energy beams that are quite effective if your throat cancer has been detected at the first stage itself. Surgery is used in a little more critical condition. If confined to surface of the throat, cancer can be treated by the use of endoscopy. A hollow endoscope will be inserted in your throat or mouth through which surgical tools or laser will be passed. The tools can cut off and the laser can vaporise very superficial cancers. In some situations, a part of your voice box where the cancer exists may have to be removed. Some parts of throat may also need to be removed, depending on the severity. A dissection will be made near your neck and then, the cancerous lymph nodes will be removed surgically.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

If you experience constant pain in throat or difficulty in swallowing you should get it examined by a doctor as it could be the sign for throat cancer. Also, if there is a lump or sore in your throat which has not healed in a long time, it is a matter to be looked into.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Constant pain in throat may just be tonsil pain. Get a thorough check up done.

Are there any side effects?

The high energy beams used in radiation therapy may cause irritation in skin for some time. Sense of smell and taste may change. One may also go through temporary or permanent hoarseness in voice, dry mouth and difficulty in swallowing.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

You must look after your diet by including as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Quit smoking and avoid drinking alcohol. Make regular appointments with your doctor to keep your progress in check.

How long does it take to recover?

You may be able to walk and do your regular activities in about a week but you must rest well for 3-4 weeks before resuming more vigorous activities.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Treatment for throat cancer may cost you between ₹100000 to ₹150000.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

No treatment for cancer is permanent. You must take care of your body very well once you have been treated for it. Ensure that you are consuming a healthy diet and have stopped smoking and drinking alcohol.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are no alternative treatments for throat cancer but you may find treatments like acupuncture, massage therapy and meditation to be of help as they may speed up the healing process.

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