A new indicator has been unearthed that may help identify patients at an increased risk of throat cancer and the spread of that cancer to other parts of the body.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered that when lymph nodes connect together, forming matted lymph nodes, a person's chance of oropharyngeal cancer spreading is increased.
Oropharyngeal cancer occurs at the back of the tongue, soft palate, throat and tonsils, and is incredibly common.
The study revealed that oropharyngeal cancer patients with matted lymph nodes had a survival rate over three years of 69 per cent, compared to 94 per cent for patients without matted lymph nodes.
Dr Douglas B Chepeha, senior author of the study, commented: "The spread of cancer throughout the body accounts for about 45 percent of the deaths from oropharyngeal carcinoma."
The discovery is hoped to help doctors identify those at risk who would benefit from additional therapy.
Previous research has also claimed that those with human papillomavirus-positive tumours have a better chance of survival in patients with oropharyngeal cancer.
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