Home Health news Throat and breast cancer symptoms revealed as Martina Navratilova gets diagnosed with both diseases

Throat and breast cancer symptoms revealed as Martina Navratilova gets diagnosed with both diseases

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Throat and breast cancer symptoms revealed as Martina Navratilova gets diagnosed with both diseases

Breast and throat cancers kill thousands of people every year in the UK and the US.

But not everyone knows how to spot tell-tale symptoms of the diseases, which can be vital in boosting survival chances.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, 66, yesterday revealed she had been diagnosed with both at early stages, after she discovered a swollen lymph node in her neck in November.

Her diagnosis comes after she was given the all-clear from a non-invasive form of breast cancer in 2010 following radiation treatment.

The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit. Lumps may not be visible but can usually be felt by checking the breasts. The disease can also cause changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts, a discharge of fluid from one or both nipples, a rash or crusting of the skin on or around them. The skin on the breast can also change, becoming puckered or dimpled. Finally, a lump in either of the armpits can also indicate breast cancer

One of the most common symptoms of throat cancers is a persistent or worsening sore throat. Patients may also suffer with an earache, because of connections between nerves from the throat to the ear. Difficulty swallowing, a visible lump, a change in the voice or lump in the neck are also all signs of the disease

One of the most common symptoms of oropharyngeal cancers is a persistent or worsening sore throat. Patients may also suffer with an earache, because of connections between nerves from the throat to the ear. Difficulty swallowing, a visible lump, a change in the voice or lump in the neck are also all signs of the disease

The tennis star Martina Navratilova (pictured at Wimbledon in 2022) today announced that she has been diagnosed with two forms of cancer

The tennis star Martina Navratilova, pictured at Wimbledon last year, yesterday announced that she has been diagnosed with two forms of cancer

A statement from her representative described the prognosis as ‘good’, adding that her throat cancer was caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

Today, Martina thanked fans for their support after she was flooded with messages from well-wishers.

She tweeted: ‘Needless to say my phone and Twitter are both blowing up so I will say again – thank you all for your support and I am not done yet.’

Here, MailOnline reveals the signs of both diseases and how you can spot them…

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the second most common form of the disease in women, after skin cancer.

It is diagnosed in up to 55,000 women in the UK and 264,000 in the US every year.

The risks of the disease are not fully understood, although doctors are aware of specific risk factors.

These include age, genetics, previous history of breast cancer, dense breast tissue and exposure to medication that increases oestrogen levels, including hormone replacement therapy and the contraceptive pill. 

Lifestyle factors including obesity and drinking alcohol can also have an effect. 

The most common sign of breast cancer is a lump or swelling in the breast, upper chest or armpit.

Lumps may not be visible but can usually be felt by checking the breasts.

The disease can also cause changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts.

Another symptom is a discharge of fluid from one or both nipples, while a rash or crusting of the skin on or around them can also be a tell-tale sign.

The skin on the breast can also change, becoming puckered or dimpled.

Finally, a lump in either of the armpits can also indicate breast cancer. 

Treatment depends on how early the cancer is spotted, with radiotherapy and chemotherapy commonly used together.

Surgery can be done to remove part of the breast where the tumour is or a full mastectomy to remove the whole breast may be necessary.

Throat cancer 

When doctors refer to throat cancer, they are usually referring to tumours in either the throat (pharynx) or voice box (larynx).

The term can also be used to described cancers of the thyroid, oesophagus (gullet) or wind pipe (trachea) but these are treated differently.

It makes up between 18 and 30 per cent of more than 12,000 head and neck cancers in the UK and 66,000 in the US diagnosed every year.  

The most common causes of all throat cancers are smoking and drinking alcohol. 

HPV infection can also cause cancer of the pharynx specifically, known as oropharyngeal cancers.

One of the most common symptoms of oropharyngeal cancers is a persistent or worsening sore throat.

Patients may also suffer with an earache, because of connections between nerves from the throat to the ear.

Difficulty swallowing, a visible lump, a change in the voice or lump in the neck are also all signs of the disease.

Oropharyngeal cancers are generally treated with radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy. 

Surgery is usually only required if the tumour returns after chemotherapy. 

In related news…

Martina Navratilova, 66, insists she’s ‘not done yet’ as she thanks fans for messages over throat and breast cancer diagnosis

Billie Jean King leads support for Martina Navratilova, 66, calling the Wimbledon legend ‘as brave as she is strong’ after throat and breast cancer diagnosis

Cell treatment that ‘resets’ immune system gives 250,000 British blood cancer patients new hope as clinical trials expand

Throat and breast cancer: What are they, how are they treated and what is the survival rate? 

Breast cancer

What is it?

Breast cancer develops from a cancerous cell which develops in the lining of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.

When the breast cancer has spread into surrounding breast tissue it is called an ‘invasive’ breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with ‘carcinoma in situ’, where no cancer cells have grown beyond the duct or lobule.

Most cases develop in women over the age of 50 but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men though this is rare.

Staging means how big the cancer is and whether it has spread. Stage 1 is the earliest stage and stage 4 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

How is it treated?

Treatment options which may be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. Often a combination of two or more of these treatments are used.

  • Surgery: Breast-conserving surgery or the removal of the affected breast depending on the size of the tumour.
  • Radiotherapy: A treatment which uses high energy beams of radiation focused on cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells, or stops cancer cells from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: A treatment of cancer by using anti-cancer drugs which kill cancer cells, or stop them from multiplying
  • Hormone treatments: Some types of breast cancer are affected by the ‘female’ hormone oestrogen, which can stimulate the cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments which reduce the level of these hormones, or prevent them from working, are commonly used in people with breast cancer.

What is the survival rate? 

Some 95.8 per cent of women survive breast cancer for at least one year.

This falls to 85 per cent surviving for five years or more. 

Breast cancer survival continues to fall beyond five years after diagnosis. 75.9 per cent of women are predicted to survive their disease for ten years or more.

Throat cancer

What is it? 

Throat cancer is a general term that describes several different types of cancer that start in the throat (pharynx) or voice box (larynx). 

Symptoms include ear pain or a sore throat, a lump in the neck, difficulty swallowing, change in your voice or speech, unexplained weight loss, a cough, shortness of breath and a feeling of something stuck in the throat. 

It can be caused by a range of risk factors including smoking, drinking alcohol and viral infections, including human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus.

How is it treated? 

Pharyngeal cancers are generally treated with radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy. 

Surgery is usually only required if the tumour returns after chemotherapy. 

Treatment for laryngeal cancer depends on the size of the tumour.

Early stages can be treated with radiotherapy and surgery alone, while more advanced disease may also require chemotherapy or other targeted cancer medicines. 

Surgery can involve removing part of the voice box that is affected by cancer.

The ability to speak and breathe normally can be affected, especially if all of the voice box is removed. 

What is the survival rate? 

If the pharyngeal cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the overall five-year survival rate for all people is 85 per cent. 

Statistics on larynx cancer survival are only available for men. 

This is because so few women are diagnosed with cancer of the larynx.

Around 90 per cent will survive their cancer for five years or more after diagnosis of stage 1 laryngeal cancer.

Stage 1 laryngeal cancer is only in one part of the larynx and the vocal cords are still able to move. 

The cancer has not spread to nearby tissues, lymph nodes or other organs.

Sources: Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Now, Mayo Clinic

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