Throat Cancer | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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 Throat Cancer

Overview

Throat cancer, which is considered a type of Head and Neck Cancer, occurs when malignant (cancerous) cells form in the tissues of the pharynx (the tube connecting the nose to the esophagus), the larynx (where your voice box is located) and/or surrounding tissues and cartilage, including the tonsils and the base of the tongue.

In the beginning stages of the disease, throat cancer cells are typically thin and flat, resembling fish scales. The medical term for this type of cancer cell is squamous cell carcinoma.

Types of throat cancer:

    Nasopharyngeal Cancer forms in the nasopharynx, which is the upper portion of the pharynx right behind the nose. This type of throat cancer is the only squamous cell head and neck cancer that researchers have not linked to excessive tobacco use or moderate alcohol consumption. It does, however, have its own set of unique risk factors including ethnic background and exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus.

    Oropharyngeal Cancer cells grow in the middle portion of the pharynx behind the mouth, but this cancer also impacts the soft palate, sides and back of the throat, and the base of the tongue. Smoking and exposure to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) put patients at a greater risk for contracting this disease.

    Hypopharyngeal cancer cells form in the tissue of the hypopharynx and/or the swallowing passages. Increased risk for hypopharyngeal cancer has been linked to eating a diet without the proper nutrients in it as well as having Plummer-Vinson Syndrome.


As with other cancers, throat cancers (which can often initially go undetected because early signs are difficult to pinpoint) have specific types. Additionally, cancer cells can spread to surrounding tissues, cartilage, bones or other parts of the body.

Prognosis and treatment options vary depending on each person’s own genetic makeup, location of the cancer cells and the stage of the cancer.

Miami Cancer Institute’s throat cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. Having risk factors, however, does not necessarily mean you will get cancer, so it’s important to know your own personal risk factors and discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Although the effects of throat cancer can be significant, the disease is often highly treatable when detected and diagnosed early.

Tobacco and alcohol use are two of the biggest contributing risk factors for throat cancer, but researchers have identified certain other risk factors that may make some people more likely to develop the disease:

  • Being male (Men are up to five times more likely than women to develop throat cancer.)
  • Ethnicity (African-Americans are at a greater risk of developing throat cancer than people of other ethnicities, and those with Chinese or other East Asian ancestry are at greater risk of developing nasopharyngeal cancer specifically)
  • Being over age 65
  • Exposure to asbestos and chemicals such as nickel, sulfuric acid and paint fumes
  • Exposure to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Exposure to the Epstein-Barr virus

Miami Cancer Institute’s throat cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Prevention

Preventing throat cancer, or at least reducing your risk, often involves changing lifestyle behaviors and certain environmental exposures.

This includes eliminating tobacco use, drinking alcohol in moderation, avoiding certain environmental and chemical exposures (such as asbestos, nickel, sulfuric acid and paint fumes) and getting vaccinated for HPV.

At the Cancer Institute, our team of throat cancer experts will discuss with you what tests are best for your personal needs as well as any additional steps you can take to lower your risk of developing this disease.

The Miami Cancer Institute’s throat cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Symptoms

Throat cancer symptoms can vary and can often seem similar to symptoms of other chronic diseases, so if you have any symptoms, especially those that last longer than two weeks, it’s important to see your doctor.

Symptoms can include:

  • Change in the voice, including hoarseness
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Earaches
  • Lump in the neck
  • Chronic cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss

Our throat cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Diagnosis

At Miami Cancer Institute, our internationally recognized throat cancer experts work together across many medical disciplines (known as a multidisciplinary approach) to provide you with the most advanced, comprehensive diagnostics available today – all under one roof and all conveniently located in South Florida.

Our expert multidisciplinary team begins by determining your complete family history and providing you with a thorough physical examination. This includes blood tests and state-of-the-art advanced imaging and laboratory tests, all with a compassionate, patient-centered focus.

When you’re diagnosed with throat cancer at the Institute, our expert healthcare team uses a variety of personalized tests, depending on what’s right for you. This can include:

  • Biopsy to examine tumor tissues and determine the specific kind of cancer present
  • Barium swallow test for clearer pictures during imaging
  • Imaging studies that may include X-rays, ultrasound, CT (Computed Tomography), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), PET​ (Photo Emission Tomography), radioiodine scans or bone scans
  • Laryngoscopy, which enables the specialists to use a mirror or a thin, flexible, lighted tube to view the larynx and surrounding areas in the throat
  • Endoscopy to view hard-to-see areas of the throat using a thin, lighted tube
  • Esophagoscopy to view the inside of the esophagus using a thin, lighted tube
  • Bronchoscopy to view the insides of the trachea and lungs using a thin, lighted tube

Miami Cancer Institute’s throat cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Treatment Options

The throat cancer specialists and subspecialists at Miami Cancer Institute are internationally renowned experts who offer the most advanced therapies available to treat your specific kind of cancer.

Immediately after diagnosis, our specialty teams provide additional tests to determine if the cancer has affected other areas of the head and neck or any other areas of your body.

Every patient’s disease is unique, with different cells moving, changing or multiplying based on that person’s individual genetic make-up. In addition to locating the tumor cells and determining what the genetic changes and markers are, additional ways our specialists and subspecialists can create the best treatment plan include factoring in a patient’s age, overall health, family history, medical history and finally, staging the cancer, which helps identify how far the disease has progressed.

Your personalized treatment plan may include:

  • Surgery: Miami Cancer Institute’s world-renowned surgical oncology team offers minimally invasive techniques (which can reduce pain and recovery time) to remove the tumor while sparing structures needed for speech and swallowing. Every patient’s cancer is unique, so your Miami Cancer Institute specialists will discuss what surgical options will be best for you.
  • Radiation Therapy: As the only cancer center in the world to offer all of the latest radiation therapy technologies under one roof, Miami Cancer Institute is also home to South Florida’s first state-of-the-art proton therapy center. For a full listing of radiation therapies available, click here.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs destroy cancer cells and control their growth. Chemotherapy can be combined with other treatments either to shrink tumors before surgery or radiation or to ensure all cancer cells have been eliminated following other treatment therapies.

    In most cases, chemotherapy is given intravenously (through an IV) through a thin tube called a catheter, which is inserted into a vein.
  • Targeted Therapies: Your Miami Cancer Institute cancer specialists use drugs or other select substances and methods to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread. The goal of targeted therapy is to interfere with genes or proteins involved in tumor growth while avoiding damage to healthy cells.

    ​Targeted therapy is the foundation of precision medicine, which uses information about a person’s genes or a tumor’s DNA profile to develop innovative, tailored treatment options.
  • Treatment can be delivered orally, intravenously or by another mode – specific to you and your cancer type. Targeted therapy may also be combined with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

  • Immunotherapy: Your Miami Cancer Institute cancer specialist may use certain drugs to assist your immune system’s ability to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread.
  • Immunotherapy is delivered intravenously and is usually very well tolerated. It may also be combined with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Clinical Trials offer South Florida patients and our communities access to leading-edge, innovative treatments that often result in new therapies not available elsewhere. To find out if there is a clinical trial related to your specific cancer, click here.

Our throat cancer specialists and subspecialists combine world-recognized medical expertise, innovation and compassionate care to detect and treat your specific cancer, creating precise, personalized treatment plans that incorporate groundbreaking discoveries, collaborations with other world-renowned cancer researchers, and the best individualized treatment just for you.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

Treatment Planning & Cancer Support Services

At Miami Cancer Institute, our internationally recognized throat cancer specialists and subspecialists work together across numerous medical disciplines (known as a multidisciplinary approach) – medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, pharmacology, and more – to provide you with the most advanced, precise and personalized treatments available today – all under one roof and all conveniently located in South Florida.

Our expert multidisciplinary team designs an individualized treatment plan that is created to address your specific cancer and that helps ensure you receive the best care available anywhere.

Additionally, our dedicated Cancer Patient Support Center team works with each patient to tailor a personalized plan that may include physical therapy, nutritional advice, pain management services and more. Your team of Institute specialists will work with you to determine which support services will best meet your individual needs.

The Institute also offers an innovative Patient Navigation Program that streamlines each patient’s care delivery, creating a smoother, more seamless care path while also enhancing a compassionate patient experience on the cancer journey. From helping you manage symptoms and understand treatment options to assisting caregivers and helping resolve insurance challenges, the Institute’s nurse navigators develop compassionate and consistent relationships with patients to help each patient at virtually every point of need. To learn more about the Patient Navigation Program, please click here.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials offer cancer patients an additional source of hope and treatment options – even if other treatment methods have proven challenging and extraordinarily complex – by helping all of us gain new insights into ways of preventing, detecting, treating and curing cancer.

And at Miami Cancer Institute, our throat cancer specialists and subspecialists believe that groundbreaking, transformative research through medical collaboration with each other as well as with other world-renowned cancer experts can bring promising new drugs and innovative therapies directly to the patient by offering you access to leading-edge clinical trials – targeted to your specific type of cancer.

Organized around cancer-specific research groups and led by internationally renowned oncology researcher and Deputy Director/Chief Scientific Officer Miguel Villalona Calero, M.D., Miami Cancer Institute’s Clinical Research Program is designed to focus on precision medicine and conducts detailed, patient-centered studies that identify your specific genes and molecular make-up (known as genomics), as well as your environment and lifestyle.

Additionally, our alliance with our colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center enables us to offer our patients access to even more innovative therapies and clinical trials to treat your specific disease – creating a robust Clinical Trials program unmatched by any other in South Florida and deemed one of the best in the entire nation.

To find out which clinical trials may be available for your specific cancer, click here.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

The Experts

Miami Cancer Institute’s world-renowned throat cancer experts – and the advanced technologies we offer – provide you with a life-changing medical edge in your fight against cancer, all available right here in South Florida.

Led by Chief of Head and Neck Cancer Surgery Geoffrey Young, M.D., Ph.D., and Head and Neck Medical Oncologist Guilherme Rabinowits, M.D., Miami Cancer Institute’s team of prominent head and neck oncologists comprises nationally and internationally recognized experts who are well-established in our community and who collaborate with each other as well as across medical disciplines to provide personalized, compassionate, innovative treatments for each patient.

If you’ve been diagnosed with throat cancer, would like more information or would like a referral to our program, please call 1-786-596-2000 (local) or 1-866-596-2330 (toll-free).

International patients, please contact our International Services team at 1-786-596-2373 or email us at International@BaptistHealth.net.

(Source: National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov)

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