Cancer » Tonsil Cancer
Tonsil cancer is a rare kind of cancer and originates primarily in the tonsils. The cancerous cells may develop either in the palatine, pharyngeal or lingual tonsils. In most of the cases, the cancer develops in the palatine tonsil while the origination of cancerous cells in the pharyngeal or lingual tissues is comparatively less.
Nature of tonsil cancer
Cancer of the tonsils is mostly squamous cell carcinoma type but can also be lymphoma cancer. Tonsils play a key role, especially in the new born babies, in building a strong immune system. They generate antibodies and lymphocytes and act as a shield to the external infections. Relevance of tonsils relatively decreases with age and can be removed safely by surgery without any considerable impact on the person's health.
Tonsil cancer primarily originates in the squamous cells forming the outer layer of the tonsils and spread to the interior with an increase in the severity of the disease. Hence, majority of the cases belonging to cancer of the tonsils are of squamous cell carcinoma type. The cancerous cells initially target the tissues and prevent them from working efficiently. Efficient working of tissues is important to maintain good health and steady growth of cells. Tissues are the main suppliers of resources like the blood and oxygen to various parts of the body. Hence, invasion and damage to tissues by the malignant or cancerous cells severely impacts the overall coordination between various organs and affects the body metabolism.
The malignant cells spread rapidly and replace the live and healthy cells by the cancerous ones. This results into a sense of abnormality in the normal cells and they start dividing and growing uncontrollably and unnecessarily. This leads to a rapid increase in the number of unwanted cells in the infected area and restricts the old cells from dying naturally. These excessive cells accumulate in an area and form a lump. This lump is more commonly known as tumor and has a tendency to metastasize.
The tumor may metastasize rapidly or slowly depending upon the nature and intensity of the disease as well as the immune system of the victim. The tumors mainly use the bloodstream and lymph node as the medium to spread to other areas. Tumors can be cancerous or benign. Benign tumors do not invade or kill tissues and cells while the cancerous tumors primarily target the tissues. Benign tumors do not exhibit a tendency to metastasize while the cancerous tumors metastasize rapidly. It is difficult to eliminate cancerous tumors because they have a tendency to redevelop even if treated previously. On the contrary, benign tumors can be completely eliminated, mostly by surgery, and show very little chances of regeneration.
Cancerous tumors have a tendency to multiply and spread while benign tumors generally restrict themselves to a particular region. Though benign tumors are not a threat to life, they must be taken seriously as they have a high chance of getting converted into cancerous tumors. It is necessary to detect the tumors right in the initial stages to cure them effectively and minimize the chance of their recurrence. Ultrasound, endoscopy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan are some of the common techniques used worldwide to detect tumors. X-rays and CT (computed tomography) scan are also useful in diagnosing the disease. Surgery is the most common form of treatment and can be done simultaneously with the radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy, normal biopsy and positron emission tomography (PET) test are important to understand the intensity and spread of the disease. Tests to be undergone and the pattern of treatment may vary from person to person and must be consulted thoroughly with a cancer specialist.
Make yourself safe
Smoking and excess consumption of alcohol cause severe damage to tissues and make them more vulnerable to cancerous infection. Tobacco chewing can also put a person at a higher risk of being infected by tonsil cancer. Weak immune system is one of the major causes of the development of cancerous cells. The malignant cells can grow more safely and rapidly if the body cells fail to resist them effectively. Weak immune system actually creates a condition suitable for the malignant cells to reside without any opposition. Balanced diet with regular consumption of vegetables, salads and diet rich in nutrients and proteins is necessary to keep the immune system intact. Also, frequent consumption of fresh fruits and daily exercise will benefit in keeping you healthy.
Persons suffering from severe diseases like the AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and human papillomavirus (HPV) are at a higher risk of being prone to the disease as their immune system is already weak. Family history of the cancer of tonsils may put a person at a slightly higher risk of getting infected by the disease.
The cancer is more common in men as compared to women and usually occurs in the persons above 40 Tonsil cancer can metastasize rapidly and have high chances of recurrence if not treated properly. Pattern of treatment to be undertaken depends upon the stage of the cancer. Surgery can be the best option if the cancer is in its initial stages and has not spread to other areas. Radiation therapy is generally recommended for the persons into an advanced stage of the disease and can also be done simultaneously with surgery. Chemotherapy is another useful kind of treatment and is recommended only in serious cases of the cancer of tonsils. These treatments come with heavy side effects. Hence, a person must consider his body's ability to sustain such strong treatments before choosing one.