The term “tonsils” refers to a collection of lymphoid tissues that are present in our throats. Like most other parts of our bodies, tonsils are also susceptible to developing cancer/ cancerous cells.
There are four types of tonsils in total, including- the pharyngeal tonsils, the palatine tonsils, the adenoids, and the lingual tonsils.
Why and Where Does Tonsil Cancer Occur?
While cancer can develop in any of the tonsils, out of the above mentioned four- the palatine tonsils are the ones that are most susceptible to becoming malignant i.e. most likely to develop cancerous cells.
Also, there are only two major types of cancers that have been recorded to affect the tonsils. These are:
- The squamous cell carcinoma; which is the second most commonly occurring skin cancer type. This cancer type affects the outermost skin layer, and in case of tonsils the inside lining of the mouth.
- The lymphoma; which refers to lymph cell/ lymphocytes cancer. Under this cancer type, the cancer cells develop and gather in the lymph nodes.
The cancer of tonsils is also a kind of oral cancer or an oropharyngeal i.e. a class of cancers that develop in the mouth and the surrounding areas.
Tonsil Cancer- Symptoms
There symptoms to tonsil cancer, but these symptoms resemble the strep throat symptoms. The point of distinction between the two however is that strep throat occurs in age groups of 5 to 15 years while tonsil cancer is prevalent in ages over 50 years.
Irrespective, the symptoms of tonsil cancer are as follows:
- One of the most common symptoms of the tonsils cancer is development of sores at the back of the throat or at the back of the mouth. These sores do not heal easily or at all.
- An anomaly in the comparative sizes of the tonsils i.e. one tonsil being bigger than the other is also a symptom of tonsil cancer. If both tonsils are swollen than usual, it also indicated towards the presence of tonsils cancer.
- Persistent main in the mouth.
- Again, persistent earaches with no other evident cause are also signs of tonsil cancer.
- Pain and hence difficulty while swallowing food, particularly citrus fruits is a symptom of tonsil cancer.
- In some cases of larger cancer, difficulty in breathing, speaking and even opening the mouth are considered viable symptoms.
- Bad breath, an altered taste, and saliva tinted with blood are all symptoms of tonsils cancer.
The moment you experience any (or a couple) of these symptoms, it is important that you consult a professional for proper diagnosis and move forward with an appropriate course of treatment.
Factors Mostly Likely to Cause Tonsil Cancer
There are certain habits and factors which can increase the risk of developing tonsil cancer. They are:
- Excessive smoking
- Consumption of alcohol on regular basis or in large quantities.
- Organ transplants
- Infection with HPV or HIV virus can also increase risk of this cancer.
Treatment of Tonsil Cancer
Depending upon the severity of the cancer or the extent to which it has spread in your throat/ body you may have to go for any of the following treatment methods:
- Radiation therapy