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How is throat cancer treated?

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Quick Answer

The four major avenues of treatment for throat cancer are radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted courses of drugs and surgical procedures, as stated by Mayo Clinic. These four treatment types are of variable effectiveness depending on the nature of the cancer in question, the health of the individual and many other factors.

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Full Answer

Radiation therapy involves the delivery of high-energy X-ray beams to the cancer cells growing in the throat. While this can kill cancer cells, it also has many adverse effects on the body and can lead to many health complications for the individual. It can also be carried out by implanting radioactive wires near the cancerous areas and allowing low-grade radiant energy to kill them.

Chemotherapy uses chemical dosage to make cells more vulnerable to radiation therapy or to kill cancer cells on its own merits. Using both therapies in concert is more effective, but it also makes the side effects of both much more severe in the short and long terms.

Surgery and targeted drug therapy are the two remaining courses of action. Surgery may entail the removal of the entire throat, including the voice box, and it can leave an individual incapable of speech. Targeted drug therapy is often used to bombard cancer cells with harmful substances and to bolster the body's ability to recover.

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