Our body is made up of different parts with different structures, and each structure holds a function that is very different from but connected to everything. Such is the case of oropharyngeal lymph tissue. Unfortunately, cancer cells can also be found in these cells, like any other cells in the body. Let us now discover oral cancer, its relationship with the oropharyngeal lymphoid tissue, and what oral screening for cancer can help early detection.
Anatomy and physiology of the oropharynx
As the middle part of the throat, in between the nasopharynx and the hypopharynx, the oropharynx is the part that is consists of the tonsils, the base of the tongue, and the soft palate. The oropharyngeal lymph tissue found here is what makes up the tonsils, a body part that functions with the lymphatic system that guards our body’s immunity.
Cancer of the oropharynx
In the US, oropharyngeal cancer is one of the most notorious head and neck cancers. The most common type is the squamous cell carcinoma which can also grow in the skin, lungs, and cervix. According to the studies, men are four times more prone to develop this kind of cancer than women.
However, one has to differentiate oral cancer from oropharyngeal cancer. Yes, they are different. Although the tongue is part of the mouth, its base is not essentially part of the oral cavity. Moreover, the way the cancer cells behave when they grow as tumors in these two body areas may act differently and send off different signals and symptoms. For more clarification, it is then best to consult your oncologist so you can get the correct diagnosis.
Symptoms of oropharyngeal cancer
Of course, a tumor growth on the neck may be the most common sign of oropharyngeal cancer. Other signs that may alert the patient and the doctor are difficulty swallowing, weight loss, throat pain, and episodes of blood-tinged saliva. Oncologists may perform a biopsy of the oropharyngeal lymph tissue if it is readily accessible or if your doctor advised you to undergo endoscopy. A biopsy is the best way to diagnose if a person has cancer or he only has throat-related problems.
Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma or oropharyngeal cancer may be prevalent, but it can somehow be prevented. Smoking cessation and lowering your alcohol and illegal drugs intake may greatly affect your body’s health and its capacity to fight off cancer cell growth.