Tonsil cancer is a type of oropharyngeal cancer, which falls, in turn, under the category of head and neck cancers. The tonsils are a pair of tissues at the back of the throat, the purpose of which is to capture and kill bacteria and viruses. When infected, the tonsils will swell up. It is rarer for them to develop cancer, but it can happen. Perhaps you or a loved one was diagnosed with it here in Massachusetts.
Risk factors for tonsil cancer
First of all, it should be noted that even those who have had their tonsils removed can run the risk for tonsil cancer. Such an operation may not, after all, entirely remove the tissues. Heavy drinking and smoking will raise the risk. Perhaps the greatest risk factor, though, is infection with human papillomavirus or with HIV.
The National Institutes of Health has gone so far as to say that the recent increase in tonsil cancer cases is due to a rise in HPV infections. It further states that up to 93% of Western Europeans who were diagnosed with a throat or mouth cancer also tested positive for HPV.
Diagnosing tonsil cancer
Tonsil cancer symptoms can resemble those of strep throat or tonsilitis. They include a chronic sore throat, a white or red patch on the tonsils, difficulty chewing and swallowing and earache. After taking these symptoms, as well as the patient’s medical history and the presence of any risk factors, into account, a doctor may refer the patient to a specialist.
After that, patients may go through imaging tests and have a biopsy done. Treatments include the surgical removal of the cancerous tissue as well as some combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Cancer misdiagnoses and malpractice law
Cancers are among the most frequently misdiagnosed medical conditions, and tonsil cancer, being rare, is naturally high on the list. Some diagnostic errors are the result of medical malpractice and form the basis for a claim. If this applies to you, then you may want a lawyer to help you build up your case.