All it takes is one persistent symptom to make a 25 year old fear throat cancer – which actually CAN strike young adults, even though most newly diagnosed cases in the U.S. occur in people 45 to 84.
Throat cancer includes laryngeal and pharyngeal.
Symptoms of Throat Cancer
• Bleeding (through mouth or nose)
• Breathing problems
• Ear pain
• Lump in neck
• Lump in throat feeling
• Swallowing difficulty
• Swelling (eyes, jaw, neck, throat)
• Throat soreness or pain
• Voice changes (hoarseness, unclear speech)
• Weight loss: unexplained
“The risk in the U.S. of getting any cancer of the head and neck is well under one in 10,000,” says Gene Liu, MD, MMM, President, Chair, Department of Surgery; Chief, Division of Otolaryngology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Group.
Dr. Liu adds, “The risk of getting throat cancer is even lower, perhaps closer to one in 100,000. That risk is even lower in a 25 year old, which is a lot younger than the average patient with throat cancer.
“Smokers are anywhere from 5-25 times more likely to get head and neck cancer depending on other risk factors and how much and how long they’ve been smoking.
“Tobacco chewing is more likely to result in cancer of the mouth, lips and gums than the throat,” though chewing tobacco is still a risk factor.
Risk Factors Other than Smoking
• Heavy drinking
• Poor nutrition
• HPV infection
Symptoms in the above list also have very numerous benign causes, even when several of those symptoms are occurring together.
In fact, seven of those symptoms are caused by acid reflux making contact with the larynx.
Several are caused by TMJ disorder and sinusitis. If we look at just two concurrent symptoms, this dramatically raises the number of benign possibilities – such as anxiety and underactive thyroid.
Persistent symptoms always should be evaluated by a doctor, but if you’re 25 and have any of the symptoms above, chances are pretty high that it’s a benign condition rather than throat cancer.