It is well-established that asbestos-related cancers such as lung cancer and mesothelioma develop when the inhaled asbestos fibers start accumulating in the lungs. Naturally, these fibers pass through the larynx before reaching the lungs. The asbestos fibers penetrate the laryngeal tissues and get embedded in its lining leading to severe inflammation and cancer. Apart from the inhalation of the asbestos fibers, coughing up sputum that contains asbestos can also cause the fibers to attach to laryngeal tissues.
A study conducted in 2006 by the US Senate Committee and the National Institute of Health revealed that a higher risk of pharyngeal cancer was seen in asbestos workers. However, as pharyngeal cancer is quite rare, there are only a few studies available to assess the association between pharyngeal cancer and asbestos exposure. Also, there is a lack of information on the dose-response relationship though the evidence suggests an increased risk of pharyngeal cancer among asbestos-exposed individuals.
Common signs and symptoms of cancer of the larynx and pharynx
A few signs of laryngeal cancer such as hoarseness of voice and visible signs of small lumps on the vocal cords are often easily noticed and lead to early diagnosis. The symptoms experienced in both laryngeal and pharyngeal cancer are listed below:
- A lump in the neck
- Pain or difficulty while swallowing
- Hoarseness of voice
- Ear pain
- A sore throat that does not resolve
- Wheezing and persistent cough
- Unintentional weight loss
- A painless lump in the upper neck
- Nasal congestion and bleeding
- Facial pain
- Tinnitus and hearing changes