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Differences Between Esophageal and Throat Cancer

Esophageal vs Throat Cancer

Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases nowadays because it can strike quietly and can develop at an amazing rate spreading cancer cells throughout the body and slowly but surely killing off anyone who doesn’t receive adequate treatment. Early detection of cancer may stave off the deadly effects of the disease. Cancer that is treated in its early stages can be cured eventually through the use of chemotherapy, which can kill cancer cells as well as all cells in the patient’s body. Cancer that is detected at a late stage, however, can prove fatal to the patient. In order to treat cancer, it’s imperative to pinpoint exactly where its origins are. There is some confusion regarding esophageal and throat cancer. Some doctors insist they’re one and the same thing, while others assume that they’re different and can occur independently. In order to differentiate effectively between the two, you must have sufficient knowledge about the inner workings of the human body and how cancer can afflict different areas.

The throat part of the human body doesn’t end at the mouth but extends well down into the neck area. The larynx, hypopharynx, and oropharynx are different areas of the throat which can become infected with throat cancer. Inflammation of the lymph nodes in these areas is an early sign that cancer has settled in. Once the cancer advances to later stages, it spreads to other areas of the throat such as the mouth, lips, voice box, and nasal cavities. Once the cancer has spread to the whole throat area, it may cause great pain and disable speech.

On the other hand, esophageal cancer occurs at–you guessed it right–the esophagus, which is the muscle-rich tube responsible for transporting food from the throat down to the stomach. The esophagus transports food via muscular contractions. Esophageal cancer starts at the pharynx, an area located throughout the neck and chest, then spreads through the whole of the esophagus. Patients afflicted with esophageal cancer are unable to swallow solid food and experience intense pain and discomfort forcing them to adopt a liquids-only diet. Once the cancer advances to a later stage, it may develop into a tumor that will induce frequent vomiting. Eventually, the afflicted person will be undernourished, leaving him or her in a critical condition.

While both throat and esophageal cancer have a common start, that is, the inflammation of lymph nodes and the formation of tumors, they occur at distinctly different areas. The confusion in telling one apart from the other can easily be resolved as long as you’re familiar with the parts of the digestive system. Both cancer types are dangerous if they’re not detected at an early stage. They also have similar symptoms, such as difficulty in swallowing and severe pain, but esophageal cancer is more unbearable because it disables an afflicted person from consuming solid food. On the other hand, a person who has throat cancer may find it hard to speak, but he or she would still be able to consume solid food and not be in danger of undernourishment.

Lastly, there is a major difference between the two in terms of factors than can aggravate or hasten their development. Throat cancer is mainly triggered by rampant tobacco use, while esophageal cancer is brought about by long-term reflux and alcohol abuse.


The main difference between throat and esophageal cancer lies in the location. Throat cancer occurs at the larynx, hypopharynx, and oropharynx areas, while esophageal cancer starts off at the pharynx then eventually spreads to the lining of the esophagus.

Throat cancer disables speech, while esophageal cancer disables food consumption.

Both throat and esophageal cancer begin when lymph nodes become inflamed.

Throat cancer is mainly associated with tobacco use, while esophageal cancer is aggravated by alcohol usage and long-term reflux.

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