Throat cancer occurs when cells
in your throat develop genetic mutations. These
mutations cause cells to grow uncontrollably and
continue living after healthy cells would normally
die. The accumulating cells can form a tumor in
It's not clear what causes the mutation that
causes throat cancer. But doctors have identified
factors that may increase your risk.
Types of throat cancer
Throat cancer is a general term that applies
to cancer that develops in the throat (pharyngeal
cancer) or in the voice box (laryngeal cancer).
The throat and the voice box are closely connected,
with the voice box sitting just below the throat.
More specific terms to describe the types of
throat cancer include:
* Nasopharyngeal cancer begins
in the nasopharynx — the part of your
throat just behind your nose.
* Oropharyngeal cancer begins
in the oropharynx — the part of your throat
that is right behind your mouth.
* Hypopharyngeal cancer (laryngopharyngeal
cancer) begins in the hypopharynx (laryngopharynx)
— the lower part of your throat, just
above your esophagus and windpipe.
* Glottic cancer begins in
the vocal cords.
* Supraglottic cancer begins
in the upper portion of the larynx and includes
cancer that affects the epiglottis, which is
a piece of cartilage that blocks food from going
into your windpipe.
* Subglottic cancer begins
in the lower portion of your voice box, below
your vocal cords.