Prognosis of Throat Cancer

By  , Expert Content
Sep 21, 2011

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Throat cancer is commonly known as cancer of the larynx. It affects the voice box and the surrounding tissues in the throat. The throat or pharynx is a muscular tube which extends from the back of the nose to the base of the neck. It is about 5 inches in length and the voice box (or larynx) is present below this muscular tube. Throat cancer can develop in the pharynx or the larynx. About 50% of all throat cancers start in the larynx.

Dealing with a throat cancer can be a challenge and if you or your loved one has throat cancer it is understandable that you would like to know the prognosis. Prognosis helps you to know if there is hope, and also your treatment options.

Prognosis of throat cancer prognosis depends on many factors such as:

  • Your age and general health.
  • Type of cancer.
  • Grade of tumour (how abnormal or malignant the cancer cells are and how quickly the cells grow and spread).
  • Stage of the cancer that includes the size of the tumour, extent of involvement of the surrounding tissue and its spread to other parts of body.


Prognosis of Throat Cancers

  • If the cancer starts in the vocal cords, symptoms of throat cancer become evident in the early stages and hence diagnosis can be made before the cancer has spread widely or to the surrounding tissues. Response to treatment is better in early stages and survival rate for this type of throat cancer is high.
  • Throat cancers not on the vocal cords can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms tend to be non-specific. Hence these cancers are more likely to be detected late and have a low survival rate.
  • Throat cancers in early stages can be cured in 90% of patients and in 50 - 60% of patients if the cancer spread is limited to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes in the neck. Cancer which has spread (metastasised) to parts of the body beyond the head and neck cannot be usually cured and treatment aims to prolong and improve the quality of life.


Throat Cancer Stages and Survival Rates

Survival rates of any cancer indicate the proportion of people, with a certain type and stage of cancer, who live for a specific period of time after their diagnosis. In most cancers the five-year survival rate is determined. Survival rate depend on many factors such as patient's overall health, age, the stage of the cancer, grade of the tumour, skills of the oncologists and the patient's compliance with the available treatment options. Survival is better for early stages of cancer but there are cases which have survived all stages and all tumour grades.


Five year survival rates of throat cancer



5 Year Relative Survival Rates


Cancer in the lesion (or place) and no tumour in regional lymph nodes, no distant metastases.



Tumour size less than 1 inch thick, with no involvement of regional lymph node and no distant metastases.



Tumour size between 1 inch and 2 inches in thickness, with involvement of regional lymph node and no distant metastases.



Tumour size more than 2 inches in thickness but no involvement of regional lymph node and no distant metastases.
Tumour more than 2 inches thick and evidence of spread to one lymph node.



Evidence of spread to other tissues, such as the lips and mouth and multiple lymph nodes on the same side or on the opposite side of the neck.




Read more articles on Throat Cancer (Larynx And Pharynx) Diagnosis and Prognosis



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